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Destroying a legacy in just one tweet — Roseanne Barr’s implosion

Roseanne Barr returned to television stardom this year with the reprisal of her eponymous and popular television series, but she then quickly crashed and burned this week when setting off a Twitter nuclear bomb, essentially destroying her show’s legacy (and her social media presence) in just one tweet.

The comedian and actress resorted to a disappointingly uncreative and racist message by using an ape analogy to describe Valerie Jarrett, a former administration official working for president Barack Obama. Despite the rise of relatively unchecked online bigotry in recent years, Barr’s comment lit the fuse of her own destruction, illustrating in a flash how one inappropriate tweet can destroy a well-established and seemingly indestructible brand.

The revival of the hit television show Roseanne was an instant success, drawing in millions of viewers and making it the second-most watched program among scripted shows on television. That’s the power of a strong brand.

But even the biggest brands can be toppled when you’re dealing with the power of social media. Done properly, these tools can be great for your enterprise. With time and effort, careful and appropriate posting, and a little wisdom, you can make your brand shine.

LEGO’s creative, family-friendly content soars, but their online success didn’t come overnight. Building a social media presence by posting worthwhile and entertaining content is a key way to get started. Creating clever, engaging and respectful content is the perfect way to connect with consumers and keep them tuned in to your brand.

So many brands get it right. Just look at General Electric, which has an excellent social media presence. They share stellar photos on Instagram, have exciting science and engineering content on Snapchat, and post playful Pinterest boards. It educates followers about things they may have never known, and that’s exciting for millions of people.

General Electric shares a hydroelectric plant pump, powered by solar and wind power, from a drone. It’s engaging, and it shows their devotion to renewable energy to followers around the world.

Fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s also has a strong social media presence, but for a different reason. What set them apart in 2017 was their sassiness and sarcastic responses to other Twitter users. They jabbed at other brands in good humour and gave themselves a persona that matched their brand. They are proof that sometimes, playing nice isn’t playing smart.

GE and Wendy’s prove there’s so much you can do with social media. You can really expand your brand and connect with current and potential consumers like never before. Creative, engaging content will draw in followers and improve reach.

Following a decisive World Cup match in 2014, Delta Airlines posted a Tweet congratulating the United States’ win against Ghana. Their mistake came when they used a giraffe to represent Ghana — where there are no giraffes — which led to fire on social media accusing Delta of everything from ignorance to racism. Delta later apologized for the tweet.

The worst part of Delta’s social media mistake is how easily it could have been avoided. Five minutes of research would have spared them hours of backlash. But once the mistake is made, it’s important to admit it, and ease the damage through a genuine apology. If you make a statement, don’t go back on it. People will see through that and think you aren’t accepting your mistake.

Roseanne Barr denied responsibility for her blunder and sent out empty apologies. She blamed her former co-stars, ABC, and even Ambien — a pharmaceutical sleeping aid. The actress then went back on what she had said on Twitter, losing her credibility even further, as if that was even possible.

Though her initial comment was disrespectful and vile, it was her later stream of consciousness tweets that cemented her social media mistake. Her inappropriate behaviour created new content for the internet to pick apart. It’s proof that no matter how solid your brand becomes, no matter the great heights you reach, it can all be scorched with one simple mistake when you’re dealing with the power of social media.