It’s a better idea to employ a social media person rather than shifting someone from the PR department sideways.
Today ITV News discovered the benefits of having someone press the right button on TweetDeck, when their twitter account posted a bitchy comment about the inference-laden TV chef, stating that “Nigella Lawson is nowhere near as attractive as she thinks she is”.
Perhaps the real lesson here (for companies) is not to let your social media manager host their personal account on the same application as your corporate one.* Most companies today use a third party app like TweetDeck, which is a good idea, per se …
But the major apps haven’t got account selection visibility quite right. Neither TweetDeck nor Seesmic Desktop make the selection explicitly clear. Add a hangover or tired eyes, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
This has happened in the past when VodafoneUK’s 8,824 (at the time) followers were informed that “VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo’s and is going after beaver”. Nice.
Then Cheapflights.co.uk went a step further, employing more swears. I can’t put it better than Malcolm Coles did at the time:
There you are, in charge of the corporate Twitter account, but logged in to your own personal account when watching Katie Waissell on the X Factor.
“Oh for f*cks sake, stop crying you silly bint“, you tweet to your followers. You go to bed. Then you wake up in the morning and realise you were logged in to your work account not your own one (< this last bit hasn’t happened yet Update monday morning: it has now – tweet deleted).
Is this a sackable offence? Well, a case-by-case basis should be adopted, obviously. I’m undecided about the ITV case. It’s embarrassing, it was a personal attack, and it identifies a lack of training. More damagingly, it seriously undermines the gravity of what purports to be a reliable and solid news source. This is the place for hard fact, not catty comment.
Yet it didn’t use offensive language in the way the Vodafone and Cheapflights cases did. The X-Factor comment remained up all night. These two cases would need their Twitter privileges revoked and a spell on the naughty step at least, and I’m tempted to to say the same applies to ITV. The account doesn’t seem to have been managed well so far. This will probably be the only time ITV News is glad it only has about 7,800 followers. Not much for a Twitter account which trumpets that it represents “[t]he UK’s most popular commercial news programmes”. This SNAFU has given their follower count a fillip of a few hundred. Don’t count on the rubber-neckers hanging around though.
What you should do when this happens is recognise it, own it, and own up to it. ITV have now issued an apology, but it’s best to admit the mistake immediately after deleting (deleting tweets won’t stop retweets and there’s no stopping screengrabs, or snarky bloggers like me). Don’t wait nearly three hours, like ITV did. Strike while the iron is hot.
There are several other defence mechanisms to be employed in the aftermath of a mistweet (and this will happen again, mark my words), but they would need to be invoked in conjunction with management staff and be concomitant with the public face of your brand image.