Mis-Tweets: A PR disaster waiting to happen!

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While the online community may laugh at crazy, random posts by @charliesheen, they aren’t quite as amused when these tweets come from a brand that they trust. With the invention of HootSuite, TweetDeck and other similar applications, Twitter users can now easily post to multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously from one location. This is really helpful and convenient if you have something interesting to share about your brand that you feel would also be relevant to your personal network of friends. Sadly, however, we rarely hear examples of how these types of integration are helping better promote companies. Instead, we hear how the Red Cross account tweeted about #gettingslizzard (via Red Cross employee Gloria Huang) or how Kenneth Cole made a bad joke that shouldn’t have been shared with anyone.

Courtesy of Mashable

MashableThe Huffington Post and many other new sites picked up on the rogue tweet by the American Red Cross’ Twitter account. posted a great story about how the Red Cross handled this potetial PR disaster. The Red Cross quickly informed it’s public of the mistake and stepped up to apologize. The individual responsible, Gloria Huang, also took responsibility for her mistake. The company mentioned in the tweet even tweeted about the issue and encouraged fans of their beer brand to donate to the Red Cross! What could have been a real brand image disaster ended up showing consumers that the Red Cross was calm in the face of disaster and even raised money for the organization as beer enthusiasts donated to support the cause.

Courtesy of Mashable

On the other hand, we see that Kenneth Cole’s mis-tweet quickly became a Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. The tweet seriously offended a large portion of the online community, and inspired a good deal of questioning about his lack of good taste. A fake account @KennethColePR sprang up almost immediately and posted tweets that put the #Cairo comment into perspective.

The viral nature of Kenneth Cole’s original tweet and the intense negative reaction too it led to an official apology for the tweet on the Kenneth Cole Facebook page. The intensity of feeling about the situation prevented the apology from repairing much of the damage to Kenneth Cole’s brand image, especially since the designer has tweeted in such a fashion on previous occasions. Overall, the tweet was definitely a public relations disaster.

We saw from the Red Cross case and the Kenneth Cole case how different companies choose to handle such issues. Today, we saw another mis-tweet bring attention to a well known brand. Chrysler’s Twitter account, @ChryslerAutos, caused a stir today by “dropping the F-bomb”.

Courtesy of Jalopnik

Chrysler recognized the mistake quickly and removed the tweet from their account. They also published an apology and a commitment to taking care of the situation.

While the original tweet has been removed, the retweets are still available for everyone to see. According to Mashable’s story, the mis-tweet was first noted by Jalopnik who also reported that the tweet was linked to an employee of the social media company that manages Chrysler’s online media. According to a blog post by Chrysler, the employee responsible for the tweet “has since been terminated”. While Chrysler might have thought that firing the employee responsible would help them gain a positive response, comments on their blog show a good bit of debate about whether the punishment fit the crime.Overall, however, comments show a shared sentiment that  Chrysler was much too “corporate” in their response.

The Chrysler blogs comments also point out that the tweet’s anti-Detroit tone is in complete opposition to the pro-Detroit sentiment inspired by the 2011 Super Bowl advertisement campaign, Imported from Detroit. The tweet has caused an increase of almost 200 followers to the @ChryslerAuto account as people hear about the mis-tweet, but it is yet to be shown how th crisis will effect the company overall.

Lessons are definitely to be learned from this. First and foremost, don’t post your personal content to your business profiles. This can (and almost always will) lead to disaster. If you are mistake prone as I am, don’t link persona and business accounts. It is way too easy to accidentally publish to all or forget which sites you are pushing your content to at a given time. Also, make sure that if you are part of a crisis such as this you handle it in a way that your following can connect too. A dry corporate press release really doesn’t serve as a sufficient or appropriate response to those who are actively engaged in the online community with your brand. Most importantly, however, is to beware what you tweet and where you tweet it. Happy Safe Tweeting!

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