25
Mar
11

Twitter: A Loaded Gun. Own Responsibly.

This week marked the fifth anniversary of the first tweet. For the past five years Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds. It continues to creatively showcase the incredible reach and power of social media. According to the official Twitter Blog, in the past year the average number of tweets per day has nearly tripled from 50 million to 140 million.  For the past month the site has averaged 460,000 new membership sign-ups per day. Twitter sustaines itself as a powerful tool to connect with others, grow business, share information and have your voice heard. The benefits and reach of this social networking platform are undeniable. However, with the good also comes the bad. There are numerous unfavorable incidents surrounding inappropriate tweets; risky and scandalous tweets have lead to loss of business, the displacement of employees and countless apologies.

Once you say something on Twitter, it moves fast and you cannot take it back. Many people and brands have suffered as a result.

In 2009, Meghan McCain (daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain) became the center of an infamous Twitter scandal. The young lady posted a revealing photo of herself clutching an Andy Warhol book. Although the wording of her tweet was uncontroversial, the photo definitely was not. It quickly spread and she encountered overwhelming response. Many saw her photo as a crude and distasteful cry for attention. McCain had to respond quickly and apologize for posting the inappropriate image. The negative impact could have directly reflected on the status of her father’s public service career. At the very least, it was a distraction from his campaign strategy. Perhaps she did not realize that her tweet would cause such a stir, yet the purpose of Twitter to spread a message fast, and this is why her photo became a campaign crisis within hours.

In recent weeks there have been a number of similar instances. Earlier this month, Chrysler fired its new media agency  as a direct result to an inappropriate tweet. The tweet contained profanity and discourteous comments directed towards Detroit drivers.  This was particularly offensive because Chrysler is headquartered in Detroit and has a commitment to the city and its workers. The tweet was meant to be sent from a personal account; however, it was mistakenly sent from the official Chrysler page. The mistake of this team member had irrevocable results. The agency fired the team member and lost the Chrysler account.

One of the more entertaining examples is former Aflac spokesman, Gilbert Gottfried. In the face of recent disaster, comedian Gottfried posted distasteful tweets about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — a market that accounts for 75 percent of Aflac’s revenue. Although this information was posted to a personal account, it directly implicated Aflac because of its association with the comedian. Aflac did not take these insensitive comments lightly. They fired Gottfried as spokesperson for their brand and made a formal apology for the comments. In response to the event Gottfriend responded, “I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families,” however his sympathies were too little and clearly too late.

The lesson learned from each of these stories is clear. Twitter is a loaded gun. Handle with care. Tweeting tasteless and inappropriate remarks can result in loss of business, jobs and credibility. Agencies and companies should be particularly cautious in moving forward with social media marketing campaigns. Implementing tweet policies to employees, ambassadors and spokespeople could save your company from detrimental embarrassment and negative feedback.

Think before you tweet!

If you need assistance in creating a positive social media marketing campaign or want to share how your business has begun to incorporate tweeting policies, tell us about it here. Or share with us on Facebook at Weise Communications. And be sure to follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


3 Responses to “Twitter: A Loaded Gun. Own Responsibly.”


  1. February 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Social media sites help increase lead flow, build awareness and earn customer loyalty. However, despite working hard to mitigate any chance of negative news or online banter, the truth is it happens. If these unfortunate instances arise, a reputable public relations firm can quickly take action to provide its clients with a plan to respond, often before the media even take interest. Being prepared with a crisis communications plan is the key to alleviating worry, preventing further discussion or media coverage and protecting brands.

  2. December 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I am in fact glad to glance at this website posts which carries plenty of useful data, thanks for providing
    such statistics.


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