Think Before You Tweet

Dear Brands,

If you’re on Twitter (or any social media), I beg of you: think before you tweet.

We’ve all seen the trending hashtags on Twitter. Sometimes they come across loud and clear (#ALEastChampions, let’s go Orioles!), but sometimes they are less obvious (#oomf, or “one of my followers”). One of the things that managers of business social media accounts are often tasked with is to “join the conversation” by talking about popular topics. The thought (really just a hope) is that people searching the topic will come across your post, and that will magically inspire them to take action.

This is completely non-scientific, but based on my observations I’d say less than 1% of the time this results in a home run piece of marketing. Example: when the power went out at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans during “football’s final game,” brands like Oreo and Audi were quick to react, as well as the television station AMC. The result was a couple of memorable tweets. Did it sell any Oreos or Audis? Probably not, and even if it did, it would be hard to track. But I bet some people quickly flipped the channel over to AMC to watch The Walking Dead marathon that was airing.

Most of the time, messages are simply skimmed over or duds, having no positive or negative effect. Some of the brands I follow on Twitter use it for social experiments, like quick polls, quizzes or contests. Don’t get me wrong, this type of relationship marketing is vital to any organization – it’s just important to pay attention to the content of your posts because of how costly a gaffe can be.

These are the train-wrecks of the Internet, the posts we want to shield our eyes from but can’t. They may be rare, but when they hit, they hit hard. Sometimes they’re caused by a rogue social media manager; other times they are just mistakes. Typically with smaller businesses, there may be one person who manages the account and has access from their personal phone. They’re out on a weekend and post something they thought was to their personal account, but it ended up posting to the business account.

The worst offenders, though, are the uninformed accidental tweets. Amidst the current domestic violence news in the NFL, the hashtag #WhyIStayed began trending. If you clicked on it, you’d have seen it was victims of domestic abuse stating the reason why they may have stayed in a difficult situation. For one social media manager at DiGiorno Pizza, they took the opportunity to tweet “#WhyIStayed There was pizza…” which, expectedly, drew the ire of many.

They quickly issued an apology (through Twitter), stating that they did not look to see what the hashtag was about before posting. This tweet certainly would not have sold any pizzas, but almost assuredly cost them some. These days, just deleting something isn’t good enough, because once someone’s taken a screen shot of it, it will live forever.

DiGiorno may have made an honest mistake, but it was avoidable. Examples like this illustrate the need to establish guidelines for posting to social media. Here’s a few tips:

  • Determine who needs access, and what level of access they get. Not everyone in a company needs access from their phone.
  • Assign an editor. This person should review all posts in draft status to proofread for errors and iffy content.
  • Post with a purpose. The point of social media is to be social, but your best prospects are going to connect with you if you provide value. Develop a strategy, and a plan.

This post was originally featured on G.1440. To find out how to get more leads from online marketing, contact us at