Microsoft's UK Twitter account "@Tweetbox360" committed the ultimate social media faux pas Sunday.
Yes, it actually tweeted "Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking 'Back to Black' over at Zune:social.zune.net/album/Amy-Wine..." - pushing users to buy the singer's music only one day after her death.
In the world of social media, all it takes is 140 characters to completely change public opinion for the better or worse. The tasteless tweet garnered negative responses from followers like "Crass much?" and "Stay classy Microsoft PR jackals."
Clearly the majority of the attitudes towards the tweet were "really?" and "too soon!" but another Twitter user claims "it's what she would have wanted."
Every time a celebrity dies, there are some people out there who see it as an opportunity to make a buck.
Let's not forget about Michael Jackson's infamous estate sale, in which his sparkly glove sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000. Or there's Heath Ledger's death, which prompted sales from three of his older movies, helping launch them to Amazon's top 25 list.
Part of the phenomena is organic because humans want to rediscover the fallen celebrity. When brands tap into this curiosity by pushing sales initiatives, there is a fine line between tasteful and tasteless.
Apple has Amy Winehouse's face splashed across their iTunes homepage with the words "Remembering Amy Winehouse." The reason why Apple has not gotten much flack is probably because their sales initiative was much more subtle than Microsoft's blatant tweet.
After sending out the initial tweet, the Microsoft PR team followed up with a tweet stating "Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse 'download' tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you," acknowledging the negative backlash.
Later, Microsoft sent out a third tweet stating "With Amy W's passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy's family and friends at this very sad time."
Sadly, the damage had already been done.
Microsoft isn't the only brand to baffle us with its social media ineptitude. Other companies, like Entenmann's who tweeted "Who's #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?" after Casey Anthony was proven #notguilty in the murder of her child.
Or there's Kenneth Cole who infamously tweeted "Millions are in uproad in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at httpL//bit.ly/KCairo -KC."
What any of these social media snafus can teach us is the power of social media for changing public opinion whether it's for the better, or in Microsoft's case, worse.