When Personal and Professional Profiles Cross: Responding to Social Media Mistakes

Last week’s blog discussed physicians and professionals misusing social media. An article recently written by Ryan Homles, CEO of HootSuite (a social media management tool), reminds us of a prime example of social media misuse. In February last year, a social media specialist for the American Red Cross intended to send a personal tweet via her personal profile using HootSuite when she inadvertently sent it to the Red Cross’ 286,000 followers. The tweet stated:

“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd”

Wendy Harman, the American Red Cross’ Social Media Director, was quickly alerted and knew she had to react to what could be a public relations disaster. Her first response was deleting the tweet. She hurried to collaborate with her coworkers and determine a plan of action which included a follow-up tweet and blog post explaining the situation in a humorous manner. Their response on Twitter declared:

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

In making light of the situation, the American Red Cross received positive attention. Not only did the hashtag #gettingslizzerd showed up as a trending tweet the following day, but Dogfish Head Brewery requested people to donate to the Red Cross. Although they couldn’t determine how many donations were made due to the attention on Twitter, they did receive more donations than average during this time. They even received a donation from HootSuite.

While it is important to put company social media policies into place to avoid negative attention, not all mistakes are avoidable. In fact, as we discussed in our blog on what happens when social media marketing flops, even posts you intentionally make can work to your disadvantage. Once a mistake is made, responding effectively is most important for reputation management. The Red Cross went beyond sending a tweet to admit their mistake:  they even wrote a blog post to further explain and warned against giving blood and drinking alcohol. Additionally they were very appreciative of their online communities’ positive response understanding that their followers could have easily reacted poorly.

As a full service marketing and public relations company, McCauley Marketing Services understands the importance of keeping a defined line between personal and professional social media profiles to avoid similar situations and protect our clients’ brands. Recognizing the importance of customer relationship management, we also know how to effectively respond when crisis occurs. Keep reading our blog to stay up-to-date on marketing news, and if you haven’t already, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.