As the Korean peninsula teeters on the brink of war, US ambassador to South Korea, Sung Kim, has a bit of a social media mess on his hands.
For over a year, Ambassador Kim has been chronicling his experiences in South Korea on the US Embassy's blog, "Cafe USA." Until this week, the blog was a model for how executives and government leaders can leverage the social web to communicate effectively.
Everything changed on Monday, when Ambassador Kim wrote about how North Korea's saber-rattling had impacted his family's vacation:
"My daughters recently had off from school for spring break, and I planned to take a week off for a nice family vacation. But as is often the case here on the Peninsula, my break was interrupted by important developments and urgent issues, so my week off turned into just one day."
Yeah… That's probably not the best way to describe how a potential nuclear war is impacting your day-to-day life, especially when you're an ambassador.
And it goes on. At one point, Mr. Kim complains that he had to participate in a conference call while visiting an aquarium with his family. What the ambassador thought would take 10 minutes of his time wound up taking 40 minutes.
Here's the thing: Ambassador Kim is actually a very good blogger. His blog is a fascinating look behind-the-scenes at the life of a US ambassador. I know nothing about Mr. Kim besides what I've read on his blog, but he seems like a very nice man who happens to occupy a very powerful position in the US government. In a post titled, "My First Weekend in Seoul," Kim describes a whirlwind of events and emotions that greeted his family when they arrived in Seoul, complete with photos and links to his prepared remarks. It really is quite interesting.
A high-profile social media snafu like this can scare executives away from using social media. But I prefer to view this as a learning experience. Here are five takeaways: