All publicity = Good publicity, right?

Iron Sword

The world of social media is entirely public, where posts and tweets can be viewed a hundred times over from all corners on this Earth. The more popular a post, the more reach it will receive in the world. Which is great!… But not when your post is gaining less than favourable popularity! Social media is much like a double edged sword.

Regardless of a company’s clean record, one slip can mean slipping down a slippery slope of a PR DISASTER.

Note the Tesco horse-meat scandal, in the midst of the allegations Tesco tweeted a not-so tasteful send off to its followers…

Tesco UK Twitter - Off To Hit The Hay

Most of the twitter universe responded with disgust and shock that Tesco looked as if they were trying to crack a joke over the matter. Tesco replied to users and blamed that this schedule tweet was organised prior to the scandal breaking.

Tesco UK Twitter - scheduled Tweet apology

In addition the the not the best judged tweet, Tesco chose to then not address the scandal any further across their social media. When companies choose to treat their issues as taboo subjects it causes doubt in the minds of their followers and consumers. By not saying anything is to say that you are guilty.

That isn’t to say that Tesco should have made all the investigations and evidence made public via social media to rectify the issue, but the infamous tweet could have been easily avoided.

Bad social media publicity can be seriously damaging to businesses, but it’s when the companies can turn this bad publicity into a PR win that shows us just how powerful social media can be.

Rather than ignoring the issue it is wiser choice for companies to engage with their followers and stay ahead of the game rather than playing catch-up.

The guidelines are simple: be honest, respond quickly, post updates regularly, do not delete others’ comments and remain remorseful.

We are human and we make mistakes (especially on social media… Anybody else call in sick to work but was tagged at the beach this summer?) but mistakes can be rectified.

Take notice of the tweet below made by the Red Cross, the non-for-profit organisation which was founded to protect human life and health.

Tesco UK Twitter - scheduled Tweet apology

It’s quite clear that the employee managing Red Cross’ twitter posts had accidentally posted a personal tweet with the company twitter.

Yes, Red Cross broke a rule. They deleted the post. But the Red Cross acknowledged that action which was then the Red Cross poking fun at the mishap and all the while not creating it into a bigger ordeal. A smart move Red Cross.
Red Cross Tweet

The lesson to be taken from these scandals is to be sensitive to the power of social media. Even a small issue like a silly comment or an unintentional coincidence that gets picked up by others on social media can quickly snowball into a PR crisis. Address even small complaints from followers or others with grace and good sense.


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