Twitter is a great place for public relations professionals to connect with journalists and brand advocates, but it’s also a place where your brand or even your own life and professional decisions can be put on blast in a negative way. There are lots of articles and stories on preventing social media gaffes, but not enough on what to do or how to move on once they have happened.
As a survivor of Twitterpocalypse, here’s what I learned:
1) Control, what Control? You THOUGHT you had control …
Once a Twitter mob gets ahold to your handle and the company you represent,all they may see is red. So the best thing to do is to just apologize, try to understand what happened and admit you have more to learn. That’s how you survive. But better yet, that’s just good business.
Here’s an article on how to respond to attacks on your brand.
2) People Post Without Having All the Facts
The double-edged sword of the digital, 24-7 cycle is that you don’t need all the information to go forward. You can post and update later. That is good and bad – easy for the poster, but potentially harmful to the subjects and sources being posted about.
This presents a scary situation for companies and the brands they build – it takes forever to build a brand and only moments to destroy a legacy.
Here’s some help on how to rebuild.
3) Even When They Have the Facts, They May Not Care
Once the damage is done, there is nothing you can do to take it back. It’s out there being archived, held up for a journalism school lesson, or worse, being picked up by the local newsies in your market.
Here’s a few thoughts on how social media is affecting crisis management.
4) Questioning Ethics Is a Good Thing
Truth be told, there are many companies and universities that have yet to write a social media ethics policy for their employees, students or newsies. There are plenty of bones to pick in the digital world about who’s posting what and why they post it. A professor with an axe to grind, a friend of a friend posting to be vindictive or even newsies who are public about their personal biases are all legitimate reasons to start questioning someone’s ethics.
But it’s the way you do it — the tact involved — that counts. No one likes to feel broadsided.
Here’s a few articles about social media ethics for both newsies and for potential former newsies now in PR.
5) Take Responsibility
When Twitterpocalypse happens to you or your brand, you are the piñata and nothing else will suffice but your blood smeared over a sacrificial altar. The mob mentality of some Twitterati may even call for you to jump off a cliff or resign, but what is really the good in that? Only you will know the answer to do what’s best at the moment. I know what it’s like to take the high road, and be on the undeserving end of the corporate blame game when you’re not allowed to speak and people give you a statement you must say, but may not agree with.
Take responsibility and move on, all the while being willing to have a constructive dialogue with those involved. To do nothing and hope it all blows away is naive, short-sighted and more harmful than if you just engage in the likelihood that there is a lesson to be learned. Deal with it.
Take a deep breath and know you’ll be better off for it in the end, even after recovering from the fall.