Think before you tweet, please!
It sounds like a simple enough mantra to follow (excuse the pun) yet so many people out there fail to put this into practice.
Last week, the team here at MKC sat down to talk about our own online crisis plan and how best to tackle any and all manner of possible PR disasters in the social media spheres, which thankfully gave me a subject matter for this week’s blog.
As a reasonable dabbler in social media it is still beyond me how people fail to grasp the concept that their comments are visible to all, unless they are one of those private Twitter users, and have the potential to have serious impact. The nature of Twitter is that its content has the ability to spread far and wide in a very short space of time. It’s a place where opinions can and should be expressed. However, what’s often lacking is a general sense of cop-on.
Bad grammar, poor knowledge of geography and cases of mistaken identity aside, there have been some seriously incredulous tweeting moments in recent weeks.
The first came from a Malaysian journalist reporting on the tragedy of Flight MH370. He tweeted “#MH370 is a blessing in disguise for all of us. I understand now the beauty of unity, the sweetness of having each other. @HishammuddinH2O”. While we can assume his good intentions behind the tweet and the similar good intentions of the Malaysian Minister of Transport who replied to say “right u are 🙂 ”, their level of inappropriateness was quickly pointed out by thousands of tweets of shock and disbelief at the insensitivity shown to the families. How do you plan against outright bad judgment?
Another airline-related incident involving US Airways gave me my second example. A customer tweeted to express their unhappiness over a delayed flight. After a series of tweets between US Airways and the customer, the customer said “you ruined my spring break, I want some free stuff.” The response from US Airways was truly shocking and I’ll leave it yourselves to go and look up how. After remaining online for almost an hour, the tweet was finally removed but the damage was done. Whether the account was hacked or simply the victim of a rogue employee, US Airways was forced to act fast and put its online crisis communication plan into action. Despite their apology and investigation, they were still trending at the time of writing.
And finally, while I did say bad grammar aside, the Guardian’s recent coverage of the most debated departure of a premier league manager ever gave one more prime example of the need to reread what you write. The Guardian was playfully recapping on Mr. David Moyes’ ‘annus horribilis’. Unfortunately for the writer, the tweet lacked the second ‘n’ in annus. While the typo was quickly amended, the Twittersphere were already clamouring to tweet the wittiest response, thus ensuring it was one of the most popular tweets of the day.
I suppose the message is that no matter how much training you give a person on good Twitter etiquette, no matter how many operational social media policies you put in place, there is still a risk. You can’t prevent all bad judgment but you can prepare for it. It is for this reason, amongst others, that you need to have a contingency plan in place. In the case of US Airways, it may seem like an apology was a knee jerk reaction but you can be sure that they have response procedures in place for such incidents.
It is amazing the amount of damage people can do in 140 characters and the damage can last far longer than the length of time you appear on the trending lists. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but a tweet is still long enough to make a serious blunder.