Twitter Mistakes to Avoid

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    Tweets are forever, think twice (or more!) before you post

    Although the service is simple at it’s core, Twitter presents significant risk of crisis if not handled carefully. We’ve seen several recent examples of users inadvertently posting personal messages from corporate accounts, usually resulting in a quick apology (and, often, firing of the responsible party). While that mistake can be avoided by simply double checking a name, sometimes a message with no ill intent but spectacularly bad wording causes trouble. Social media expert Jay Baer calls these messages “Tone Deaf,” and describes them here in a quote from his Convince and Convert blog:

    These types of Twitter mistakes are a bit more disconcerting, as you get into questions of appropriateness and poor listening. The Tone Deaf error occurs when the official company account (or personal account of a high-ranking officer) throws up an air ball of a tweet that is outside customary social and societal norms.

    Of course the most famous recent example of Tone Deaf twitter self-destruction was Kenneth Cole’s ridiculous linkage of Egyptian freedom riots with his new Spring collection.

    Another cringe-worthy one was @UnitedAirlines tweeting the lyrics to the theme song of Frasier after a customer tweeted “Thanks to @unitedairlines I can finally watch that Frasier episode I missed in 1994.” The company entirely missed the sarcasm and frustration of the customer, which is bewildering because she’d sent 5 angry tweets within one minute.

    The Kenneth Cole tweet, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC” is probably the #1 example in terms of how incredibly tone deaf someone can be. That single post sparked a massive wave of resentment and anger against the retailer that spanned all types of media and cost a bundle of money, along with a large chunk of reputation.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]