Cooking up Legal Social Media Risks with Kitchenaid

Businesses are adopting social media for marketing and engagement reasons at an alarming rate, with over 65% of the world’s top companies having at least used a twitter feed in 2012. Yet it is recorded that only 22% of businesses have an actual social media manager or content planner. Therefore, with a combination of these factors and that the boundaries of personal and work social media are being even more blurred, businesses are leaving themselves open to many legal social media risks.


Kitchenaid is one of the largest kitchen appliance brands in the world, with its products being sold in every continent. Every baker’s dream kitchen would surely have a multi-coloured Kitchenaid mixer (or at least mine would), and with accounts on every popular social media site; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube, the organisation could be at risk on any of these platforms in regards to social media law.


(This is the one I want!) Source: Kitchenaid Website

Kitchenaid is not alone when it comes to these potential social media legal risks, every organisation that is involved with social technologies is facing them too, with possible risks for the organisation as a whole, and also for employees. Below I have discussed a couple of examples of legal risks in social media and how these could relate to Kitchenaid.

  • Reputation Risks- I think ultimately this is one of the biggest risks for any organisation online and using social media, particularly for Kitchenaid as they are using so many different platforms. While social media can be great for thinking outside the square and engaging in two-way communication with stakeholders, any form of inappropriate language, imagery or opinions by a business or an employee, can result in severe reputation consequences. Once something is available on social media it can be shared and therefore, will be there forever.

Surprisingly, I actually found a real example of this in relation to Kitchenaid in 2012, when an employee working on the businesses twitter account, thought they were using their personal account and posted an offensive comment about President Obama’s dead grandmother.

KitchenAid-Tweet-640Not only did the tweet share an obvious political standpoint, it was extremely insensitive about a delicate issue, portraying Kitchenaid and its employees in this manner also. Many consumers responded in a way by saying they would never buy from the brand again, and while Kitchenaid issued a very quick apology response, the reputational damage could not be undone.

  • Misleading and Deceptive Conduct (Statutory Risk)- As a retail business, Kitchenaid could be susceptible to the risk, that many other retail social media users are, of showing misleading or deceptive conduct, specifically in terms of advertisements. So for example, if they were to come up with something too ‘gimmicky’ in regards to their products or offers, this could be taken seriously by some consumers and the business may be at risk of having portrayed misleading conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act (2010).
  • Technology Risks- Viruses and Malware will always be a problem online, and as social media sites are used more, the probability of an employee within a business like Kitchenaid accidentally coming across an unsafe website is more and more likely. This could result in many negative outcomes, such as loss of confidential information, which could be damaging if it were something like ideas for an upcoming advertisement campaign.

If I have learnt anything this week in regards to legal risks in social media from case studies we have covered in class and some of my own personal research, it is that to prevent these risks from becoming realities every business needs a Social Media Policy (SMP). While I could not find an actual SMP available for general viewing on the Kitchenaid website, there is no doubt that they have one in place, especially after the twitter crisis mentioned above.

Overall I think that a SMP should attempt to address all potential legal social media risks imaginable, while maintaining a strong focus on reputation and privacy of confidential information. It’s important to have a policy for employees to be familiar with what they can and cannot be posting on social media sites, on behalf of the business and even on their own personal sites, as well as the ramifications of this. A great article that I came across that I think summarises what a social media plan should have is 10 Must-Haves For Your Social Media Policy.

Thanks for learning with me about social media legal risks in relation to Kitchenaid. I always appreciate any comments, feedback or examples you would like to share 🙂


Kitchenaid USA: Handling a Twitter Crisis

Kitchenaid Official Website

99 Social Media Stats for 2012

Managing Your Company’s Social Media Risks

The Risks of Social Media: Legal Limits

5 Social Media Risks for Companies and Employees

Do organisations need social media policies?

Legal Risks of Social Networking for Business


11 thoughts on “Cooking up Legal Social Media Risks with Kitchenaid

  1. Hey Brittany,
    thanks for this really interesting blogpost. I liked your introduction with the interesting fact, that only 22%(!) of all businesses have a social media manager. In my opinion this is more than just reckless, especially when you look at all the examples where social media activities went wrong (e.g. the KitchenAid Twitter case you mentioned).
    Your blog is very well structured and easy to read. Just a little hint: maybe you can try to find some categories to classify your blogposts. At the moments it just says “uncategorized” at the bottom. If you plan to write about different topics and your blog gets filled this could be very helpful for your readers to find the posts they are looking for.
    Thanks for this blogpost again, I will continue following. 😉

    • Hey David.
      Thanks for this comment- you are right, I should find some categories to classify my blog posts, that’s an excellent suggestion! I will definitely look into how to do that.
      Thanks again 🙂

  2. Hey Brittany, thank you for your feedback on my blog 🙂
    I loved how you provided some interesting statistics at the start to justify the topic we had to write about this week. You managed to cover this week’s topic very well and I can’t fault it.

  3. Well done this is an interesting and well worded post. I found that example of an employee posting from the wrong account gut wrenching! When there are dedicated social network teams I do question the temptation this has for staff to go wandering about non work related matter. If the employee posted this comment from their own account but the manager found out they were using it during work time, would they be in trouble?

    • Hey Matt! Thanks for reading my post. The example is quite disturbing isn’t it?! I think that the employee may have been in trouble depending on the social media policy and social network use during office hours. Do you agree?

  4. Very interesting article Brittany. This particular instance of improper use of social media by an employee is particularly shudder worthy! Although you were unable to locate it, I have no doubt that there would definitely be one in place now. From what I’ve seen so far most companies seem to not publicly display their Social Media Policy’s it seems to be a more internalized agreement, which does make sense in a way, as the majority of threats are going to be coming from within the company. I would be interested to find out what the repercussions of this slip up for the employee considering there may have been no policy in place at the time.

    • Hey Chris. Thanks for your comment. That’s an interesting point you make about the SMP’s, some companies do seem to publish theirs but others don’t. I wonder what guides their decisions for this choice? I believe that this employee was taken off being able to post on social media accounts anymore.

  5. I love your example about reputation manner. It is true that employees are on behalf of the organisation, and it is important to let every staff be aware of that during training of SMP. Oh, also thanks for sharing “10 must have” in SMP.

  6. Pingback: Brands using social media to respond to customers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s