Kenneth Cole may be best known among fashion followers for his line of cashmere coats, slip-on shoes and stylish bags.
But these days Mr Cole is also a cautionary tale of what business leaders cannot afford to do in the fast-growing world of social media.
"Millions are in uproar in #Cairo," Mr Cole wrote this month in a Twitter post. "Rumour is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."
Uproar indeed. A hasty apology through another tweet, followed by a posting on Facebook did little to repair the damage from a spate of negative headlines condemning Mr Cole for poor taste.
But the company is hardly alone. In recent months, the UK mobile phone retailer Vodafone suspended an employee for sending an obscene tweet through the company's Twitter account, while a Benihana restaurant in Kuwait faces an online backlash after it sued a blogger over a critical review.
"Like it or not [these companies] have become a case study in how not to do this," says Danish Farhan, the chairman and chief executive of Xische & Co in Dubai, which advises companies on the etiquette of using social media.
And like it or not, companies with an online presence must be more careful than ever when pushing their brands.
In one US survey, a quarter of small businesses said their customers wanted to hear from them on social networks, while 35 per cent agreed these online tools were a quick way to connect with prospective customers.
It is not only effective, it's cheap. Most small businesses planning to use these online tools this year are doing so because it is the least expensive option, according to a survey released in October by RatePoint, which provides online reputation services for companies.
While social media might be cheap or even free to operate, the costs can certainly add up if a message comes across as offensive or even just annoying.
"The viral nature of these channels means that bad or good news spreads very quickly and can also last for a long time," says Tatiana Khair, a digital marketing consultant for the Abu Dhabi office of WSI Internet Consulting.
Just as a face-to-face conversation has rules, where interrupting or ignoring a person is considered socially taboo, so do social media sites such as blogs, vlogs, LinkedIn and Facebook.
"Exactly the same is true for a Twitter conversation," write Joel Comm and Ken Burge, the authors of Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time. "The site hasn't been around for long but Twitterers have already tried to figure out something like a Twittering etiquette."
Their first rule: do not spam followers by barraging them with online press releases, flyers or other marketing materials. Instead, experts say it is better to engage them in a conversation.
When RAKBank wanted to promote its travel insurance product, Mr Farhan says he told banking representatives to first ask their followers about their travel plans. Once people started replying and became engaged with the bank, representatives could more easily pitch their product by mentioning that travellers might want to check out details of the plan.
"It's not just a matter of having a cannon out there where you keep pushing out press releases," says Mr Farhan. "It's about true engagement. It's about humanising the brand."
Experts also suggest saving updates about a business's development plans or financial performance for its corporate site. Messages that do get sent out through LinkedIn, Facebook or similar sites "must be humanised, personalised and targeted", says Ms Khair.
Some businesses are nervous about treading deeper into online water. They fear losing control of a Facebook or Twitter account, in the event that a hacker breaks in, releases bogus updates and redirects customers to unsafe sites.
But a free tool, Norton Safe Web for Facebook, scans news feeds on Facebook to see if they contain any unsafe links.
"If you as a company already have a presence on the website, the people who sign in there can easily be verified as legitimate," says Tamim Taufiq, the head of consumer sales for the Mena region at Symantec, the internet security company.