17 Jul Tweeting Without the Need to Apologize Later
Once upon a time, some enterprising young upstarts created websites that would connect us to each other like never before, and allow any stray thought to be shared across the world. To quote Douglas Adams, “This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Nonetheless, social media channels (particularly Twitter) offer tools for brands to announce news, engage with customers, and, inevitably, screw up and apologize. While the perfect Twitter apology has become an art form of its own, this remains a scenario where the adage “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” rings hollow.
Let’s take a look at how brands can avoid having to do damage control and tweet without needing to apologize.
Get a 2nd (or 3rd) Pair of Eyes
An unfortunate truth of the creative process is that it’s possible for a bad idea to be conceived, developed, produced, and distributed no matter how many gatekeepers it goes through before arriving in front of the general public. Think of how many people had to okay The Emoji Movie before hit theaters. Dozens? Hundreds? And yet it was still released.
Fortunately, having more than one person review tweets before they go out will usually prevent things like this:
The example above might not even seem like it’s in poor taste to you. But for many, that tweet was not only tactless but also offensive.
That’s why it’s important to get at least one additional perspective on your drafts to make sure that everyone else is going to see the post the way you do. For rote announcements and ads, you’re probably fine to post on your own. But for anything larger or out of the ordinary, it’s best to check with someone else to make sure what you’re sending out is OK.
Take Your Time
One of Twitter’s defining features is trending topics. Every day, different people, subjects, and hashtags find themselves among the most tweeted about things of the moment.
It can be tempting to jump into this conversation with a joke, ad, or restatement of your brand promise, but it’s often best to simply wait. Just give it a second and think about you’re latching on to. Is it random celebrity gossip? A big reveal on a popular TV show? A frank discussion of domestic violence? For most brands, only two of these things are okay to tweet about.
Yes, that is a tweet making light of a hashtag discussing why people stay in abusive relationships. Most brands should not be going anywhere near this. There are definitely brands that have social issues at the core of their personas and should absolutely be involved in conversations surrounding sensitive topics. DiGiorno, however, is not one of those brands. If the tweeter in question had had the patience to verify what the hashtag was regarding, then this wouldn’t have been posted and no apology would have been necessary.
Being a social media maven doesn’t just consist of creating engaging and relevant content. It also requires keeping abreast of what’s being discussed and circulated. Always remember to pause, do your research, and know just what it is you’re jumping into before tweeting. And if you are a brand that’s willing to discuss the more socially salient issues, take the time to make sure that any tweets are for the purpose of adding to the discussion and are not in any way self-serving.
Triple Check Your Sign-In
A thought has just bolted into your brain, and it’s pure gold. You’ve been struck with the perfect takedown of everyone’s favorite celebrity/movie/meme, and you’re ready to tweet your genius to the world. There’s just one problem: in your haste, you’ve tweeted from the wrong account and now millions of people think your brand has an opinion on the Drake/Pusha T beef.
This easily preventable fate has befallen a few social media managers too many. Please, whatever you do, if you have multiple Twitter profiles on one device, CHECK WHICH PROFILE YOU’RE SIGNED INTO. I’ve had my fair share of close calls but luckily I caught myself and didn’t end up with something like this going out:
While I respect everyone’s right to get slizzered, it’s probably not what most people want to read from the Red Cross. A best practice here would be to have a dedicated device for corporate tweeting, and another for your personal profile. Having only your corporate profile on your work computer and your personal profile on your phone, for instance, will go a long way in preventing an unintended audience from learning about the crazy weekend you had.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can deliver carefully crafted content to your followers without needing to follow it up with an even more painstakingly constructed apology. While Twitter cycles are often only a day or so, remembering these will protect your brand from a litany of dunk-tweets, articles, and boycott threats.