Wednesday 21 May, 2014

4 Incredible Twitter Gaffes and the Tough Lessons Learned

Twitter is a great way to communicate with your customers. It’s also a great way to shoot yourself in the foot, make a drooling idiot of yourself, and lose a thousand loyal customers as quickly as you can say ‘retweet.’

One inappropriate comment or technical screw-up can send you spiraling downward into a PR disaster that can turn your brand into the latest viral joke. Here are some recent Twitter gaffes and lessons we can learn from them.

The Qantas Airlines Hate-fest

When Australia’s Qantas airlines asked its Twitter followers to describe for them their dream flight, they didn’t expect the responses they got. Almost all of them were things like flights being on time, courteous flight attendants, seats that work, etc. In other words, complaints about the airline’s crummy service.

You can totally imagine it – the airline’s hip, tech-savvy social media people decided to engage their customers, completely misjudging how they really felt about the airline. Somebody somewhere wasn’t paying attention to customer feedback or the lines got crossed somehow. Even worse, Qantas replied with one pathetic tweet and didn’t engage at all with the angry customers.

Lesson – You get what you ask for when you ‘engage’ your customers. When a Twitter disaster strikes, be there to reply.

Don’t Dis Detroit

Chrysler tweeted this: ‘I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.’ But in the actual tweet, there were letters instead of asterisks. Ouch!

That’s pretty odd for Chrysler to say considering Detroit is its loyal base. What happened was that the company was outsourcing its Twitter to some other company, and one of its disgruntled employees, probably on the way out the door, decided to sound off.

Lesson – Keep it in-house.

Oil Spill, Shmoil Spill

Remember British Petroleum’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010? Most people thought that wasn’t funny, but a fake BP Twitter account made joke after joke about the environmental catastrophe, firing off funnies like, ‘I’m sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean!?! Maybe God shouldn’t have put the oil there in the first place. DUH!’

Maybe BP executives were too busy chuckling about the tweets to realize that some people didn’t know it was a fake account. The tweets only made the backlash against BP worse.

Lesson – Silence is not your friend; sometimes it’s important to clear the air.

Making a Total Weiner of Yourself

This one’s just plain funny. A United States Representative by the name of (no joke) Anthony Weiner decided one day to post a picture of his crotch on his Twitter feed. He immediately said that hackers had gotten into his account but it turns out that the crotch did in fact belong to Weiner.

It was actually meant as a private message to none other than porn star Ginger Lee, one of several women he was having X-rated Twitter conversations with.

Lesson – Make sure you know how to send private message vs. public posts.

Tweet often and tweet wisely.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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