After sending out a tweet about fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno that he quickly regretted, Ashton Kutcher announced on Nov. 10 that he would be taking a break from tweeting, and instead, his team at Katalyst Media, a company he co-founded with Jason Goldberg, would be managing his @aplusk feed. As an influential social media figure, Kutcher is sending the unfortunate message that it's OK to send out inauthentic tweets—if it's good for Kutcher, it's good for any less-powerful brand.
Kutcher reached his decision to hand off "management" of his Twitter feed after he sent a tweet on Nov. 9 criticizing the firing of Paterno. "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste,” Kutcher tweeted.
After getting socked with a hailstorm of comments from Twitter followers labeling him an idiot, Kutcher claimed that he didn’t have all the facts about the firing of Joe Paterno when he wrote the tweet. “Didn’t have full story. #admitwhenYoumakemistakes,” Kutcher apologized in a tweet later that night.
In a Nov. 10 blog post, Kutcher explained that he wanted to ensure the quality of content for future tweets, so he would have to hand over his feed in order to do so.
Many of his Twitter followers accepted his apology, but did not accept the legitimacy of his feed hand-off. One follower wrote, “I don't have much interest in following your management team, so once the transition is complete, I will respectfully unfollow your account.”
Personal and organizational brands are finding out the hard way that Twitter followers and Facebook communities can sniff out inauthenticity, and now Kutcher is finding out that admitting to inauthenticity doesn't work either. Brands have two choices: engage honestly, or don't engage at all.