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4 Brand Twitter Fails and 4 Ways to Prevent Them

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Capitalizing on trending topics can give businesses the reach that they need on Twitter — if used correctly. Sometimes the tweets do not work and just come back to haunt the business. This is particularly true when it relates to political and social events. While tweeting about a trending topic can be a great way to advertise your company, it can also have harmful effects. Hashtags can be friend and foe to large corporations. Here are four examples of Twitter fails in relation to political events:

  1. #DreamDay: The Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most revered speeches in history. It holds the actual dreams of an entire generation of people who went through unnecessary evils. The Golf Channel decided to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the speech with this tweet:@GolfChannel Tweet your ‘golf’ dream on the 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech using: #DreamDay: I have a dream that ___________. 


  1. #frankenstorm: Hurricane Sandy was a national disaster for all those on the East coast of the United States. Lives were taken, worlds crushed and changed forever. Urban Outfitters decided to make light of the situation tweeting this #fail…

Read the entire article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at:

Tweets DO NOT = Mine

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Tweets = mine. You see it the Twitter profile of thousands, but are they really yours? The answer is “no.”

Tweets are only kept to yourself and a close group of friends if you have a private profile. However, if your profile is public, the tweets are never really yours. There are many instances when individuals get in a good amount of trouble for tweets posted. Sometimes they mistakenly post a personal tweet with the corporate or client account and sometimes it is related to their own personal account. No matter if you are the janitor, the brand manager, or the CEO, what you say can have a positive or in some cases very negative effect on a brand.

Here are a couple of cases when an individual’s tweets had some very negative effects for the brand they represent.

  1. The not-so-personal account. James Andrews of Ketchum PR hurt the reputation of his PR firm when he posted this tweet “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!’” What he didn’t realize is that some employees of FedEx read this tweet when he landed in Memphis for corporate training on social media. FedEx fired Ketchum as a direct result. FedEx, being based in Memphis, cares very much about their hometown. When Andrew was speaking he represented FedEx as a brand even though he did not realize it. Read about the incident in Memphis’ Commercial Appeal.
  2. The oops-I-forgot-I-was-logged-into-the-corporate-account. Chrysler has had its fair share of issues over the last five years. The last thing they needed was somebody speaking negatively for their brand. However, the employee managing the Chrysler Twitter account made a mistake. Instead of posting to their personal account, they tweeted this message from the Chrysler corporate account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f#@%ing drive.” The company handling the Chrysler account, New Media Strategies, was fired immediately from the account. The person that made the mistake was also fired from New Media Strategies. Read about the whole incident here.

Why do these events matter to a brand? Twitter is public. Everyone can read it, and they do. Especially when you think they’re not reading or they won’t see it if you delete it really quickly. Think about when you were younger and your mom would tell you, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all.” That applies to social media, especially when you represent a brand.

How will you change the way you communicate on social media?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand here:

Know The Past to Look Ahead

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“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” At the time Winston Churchill uttered those words I doubt he considered that he would be contributing to the world of social media. In fact, in his time ‘twitter’ meant to utter successive chirping noises. Fast forward to the 21st century and everything lives and dies on social media. Everyone wants to have the next trending topic and be the first to break the next big story. This content creation generation that we live in can at times be a double-edged sword.

Google the term ‘social media fail.’ What do you see? 154,000,000 results. That’s a lot of issues that public relations executives simply would not have had to deal with 10 years ago. This is the doubled-edged sword I am referring to. Social media has increased the visibility of many organizations by leaps and bounds. This is why we need to be careful. The person that is moderating your social media speaks for your brand. When you Google your company name the last thing you want to see besides it is #fail.

So now you ask, how do we stay away from the dreaded #fail? It is easy.

  1. Do your homework. The solutions, issues, and lessons are out there. It is your job to learn from them. Study the epic fails. What did they have to do to come back from it. Have they come back from it? Knowing this information can help you not only learn from someone else’s experiences but it may open your eyes to a way of dealing with a situation that you would have never thought of.
  2. Plan ahead. Plan your social media posts and framework in advance. Taking on the task of planning this out allows more time in the future to continue the conversation on the social networks. Of course when a hot topic is trending you simply cannot plan ahead. However, what you can do is your homework on the topic before you post. You may also actually have something in the queue that is relevant to the trending topic that you could bump up.
  3. Double check. Before any posting material, know what you are posting. It seems simple but it makes a difference. Double check things that are controllable such as tone, links, punctuation and spelling. Even if you have checked previously give it another look before you post. Also, double-check what is not controllable such as the trending topic that you are commenting on. Do not make the same mistake as Celeb Boutique with their #Aurora social media fail. They forgot the homework and did not do much planning for what would come next.

We are working in a content era where everything has a very short shelf life. The mistakes are being made by professionals around the world on a daily basis. Now I leave it to you. Would you rather make the mistake yourself, potentially losing your job and hurting the company’s image? Or, would you rather take the advice of Sir Winston Churchill and study the past to build the future? I choose the latter.

Read my original guest blog post on the Eastern Michigan University PRSSA blog:

If you tweet it, they will read it.

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Is your social media coordinator qualified to speak for your brand? Have you ever actually thought about it?

1030887_53077079Social networking has been one of the number one things companies and ad agencies are focusing on today. Nearly everything is digital and has to happen now. This isn’t a bad thing, it just opens up to a new type of thinking. We need to remember that social networking is no longer just an add-on. It is a very large part of your company. Anything that is posted via social media from your corporate account represents your company. It is the quickest way to talk to your fan base.

If you tweet it, they will read it. Really think about that. We need to choose wisely when allowing someone to run your social media accounts. They speak for the entire brand. I cannot stress that enough. The reason I am focusing on this so much is because of a few recent instances of social media neglect. This neglect leads to a whole lot of crisis management. Here are two examples:

  1. Kitchenaid’s presidential election woes. The perpetweeter, person who tweets for a company and commits a social crime,  thought they were logged into their own personal profile. They were wrong. Logged into the company account, they continue on a derogatory rant about President Obama tagging #nbcpolitics via @KitchenAidUSA. Read the entire story here. This is where you must separate work and home life. Up until this point it seems as if a majority of social media is being updated by lower level coordinators instead of strategic thinkers. Although Kitchenaid did a good job cleaning up this mess, it was tweeted and it was read.
  2. Kim Kardashian inspired “Aurora” dress from Celeb Boutique. The shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “Dark Knight Rises” was a horrible tragedy. The perpetweeter updating the Celeb Boutique twitter profile had no idea what had happened. They saw ‘Aurora’ as a trending topic and without looking into it further tweeted about the Kim Kardashian inspired Aurora dress. Read the entire story here. Before you make comments that can affect an entire company you must at least do a small amount of background research. It was tweeted and it was read.

With our evolving digital landscape there needs to be someone highly qualified sending out the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and anything else that touches your target audience. You should treat this as carefully as you would treat a press release or press conference. Just because a person has a Facebook profile doesn’t make them a social media guru. It doesn’t matter what age the person running your social media is. All that matters is the experience that they have and the intimate understanding of your business and industry. Do your research and select a qualified person(s) to update your social accounts. Make sure this person understands your brand and maintains the professionalism your brand deserves. The time to act on this is before something happens.

What steps will you take to make sure your social media coordinator is qualified?