Do you own an immersion blender? They’re the Foodie Friday Fun topic this week.
Maybe you call it a wand blender or a stick blender or maybe you call it the “boat motor” as do a few TV chefs. Whatever you call it, the tool is a sharp blade at the end of a stick that a cook uses to blend food in a pot or bowl. Soups, whipped cream, mayonnaise, and pesto are all things for which I’ve used mine. Restaurants use much larger versions in their kitchens and they’re really useful to have in the home kitchen.
There was an article on them called “Bandages Not Included” in the NY Times two months ago. One thing that happens fairly often in the home kitchen is that cooks try to clean food off of them while they’re still plugged in. The blade is very sharp. The on/off switch is under your thumb by design. What could possibly go wrong? While I’ve been fortunate never to have pureed a finger into a stew I was thickening, the article got me thinking about business.
A lot of firms use the business equivalent of an immersion blender: social media. Like the stick blender, the tool seems very simple and is easy to use. A business can also cut off a finger pretty easily. In the last year, KitchenAid, McDonalds, StubHub and others have been in the spotlight for doing exactly that. Personal tweets sent from a company account, commercial messages tied to trending topics without understanding why they were trending, and “set and forget” use of automated tools have caused brands massive headaches and public black eyes.
Companies perform the social equivalent of cleaning off the blender blade without unplugging it first every day. Simple tools often lull us into a sense of complacency and that’s dangerous whether we’re in the kitchen or on the Internet. That’s why your business’ social media activity needs to be managed just as professionally as the rest of your business and not by an unsupervised intern or someone unfamiliar with each medium’s particular potential pitfalls. These tools are dangerous even though they’re incredibly useful. Like the immersion blender they can be the best way to accomplish a branding task. Provided, of course, you do so and hang on to all your fingers.