Here’s what happened

Last week, when the Casey Anthony verdict was announced, a trending topic and hashtag immediately showed up on Twitter. Thousands of people used #notguilty to tag their reaction tweets and spread the news.

Over at Likeable Media, donut maker Entenmann’s social media agency of choice, someone noticed that #notguilty was trending, and assumed that it referred to individuals sharing clever tweets about various things that don’t inspire feelings of guilt.

This person was blissfully unaware of some or all of the news around the Casey Anthony trial. I have no idea what he or she reads, but he or she sure as heck doesn’t follow any news feeds on Twitter. Given this, it was reasonable to assume that #notguilty referred to things like eating chocolate (or donuts) or a cat eating a roll of toilet paper.

And so, ensconced in this ignorance, like any good social media operative, the Likeable tweeter moved fast. And sent this:

Cue firestorm.

To be clear: Neither Likeable nor Entenmann’s created this hashtag. Nobody decided to make a controversial hashtag with a view to…what? Selling more donuts?

And here’s the reality

Social media moves fast. All the time. It also takes time. Which costs money. Oh, and few in upper management ranks, particularly at big companies, invest the time to have someone explain to them what social media is, why it matters, and how it works. I’ll never understand why, but this does seem to be the case.

So they farm it out. Usually to smaller agencies, most of which are fairly new on the scene and are therefore hiring people who early in their careers, people who need guidance and supervision. Truthfully, social media is pretty forgiving when it comes to lack of attention to detail; typos can be easily amended and are expected. 140 characters doesn’t allow for fact-checking.

I’m sure Likeable provides a great deal of value to their clients—given the brands on their client list, they must—but in this case, they are selling Entenmann’s smoke and mirrors.

Someone on Entenmann’s management team needs to wake up and smell the social media. Needs to realize that they need to create content if they want to do something other than waste money.

And about the aftermath…

Likeable quickly removed the offending tweet and apologized. But the truth is Entenmann’s social media strategy is seriously flawed. The agency sent a frighteningly uninformed tweet, and I hope whomever penned it learns from his or her mistake. But that doesn’t solve Entenmann’s problem.

Entrepreneur used this situation to offer—in my less than humble opinion—convoluted advice for companies using social media. The real answer, though, is far simpler.

Companies that are using a vendor for social media should implement a clear rule: Don’t use hashtags without checking with us first. This assumes, of course, that there is a person at the company who manages the vendor. And who understands new-fangled forms of communication.

As for Entenmann’s, will this stop anyone buying donuts? I doubt it. Move on. Nothing to see here.