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How to avoid a Twitter PR disaster

Friday, 28 November 2014 | By Monique Craig

It seems unbelievable, but embarrassing tweets are still posted from corporate accounts. As a marketing strategist, I've seen various companies make the same mistakes over and over again.


The thing is, we should all learn from every Twitter PR disaster that makes it our way – the extensive media coverage and case studies are there to help us understand what might go wrong and how to avoid these kinds of situations.


Here's what I've learned about Twitter publicity fails and how to make sure none happen to you.


Limit the access


To avoid any kind of embarrassing tweet that can harm your brand image, you should make sure that only a few people have access to your company’s official account. Brand tweets should have a consistent voice and style – this is easy when you delegate the task to one or two people. When one of them leaves your company, make sure to change the account password – one can never be too secure.


Set up a Twitter policy


If you want your Twitter strategy to help resonate your brand image, create some standards and guidelines your employees should follow when tweeting from this account. This kind of policy will help you avoid any Twitter fails that come from the lack of internal coherence. Provide a lot of feedback and special training to help them understand what they can and cannot do.


Make sure your employees are also aware how their private social media channels may affect the brand image. They are on the inside and can serve as perfect brand evangelists, but one wrong move and your reputation will burn.


Balance control and flexibility


Just because you've got your firm social media policy in place doesn't mean your employees have no right to transgress it. Twitter is all about real-time comments, and you should give your tweeting team enough flexibility to stay human and be ready to respond to big events and important happenings real-time.


Plan ahead


There are lots of tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you plan your social media output. Have an employee create a weekly schedule made up of tweets and graphics – once ready, have your marketing team review it. This doesn’t mean that your job is done – these are only the tweets that can be planned ahead. Your brand will get the most from Twitter through real-time engagement, but having a ready-made structure will always be helpful.


Always respond to Tweets sent your way


Never leave comments unanswered – especially if they're negative. When leaving a tweet with your name in it, your customers actually expect you to answer. According to recent findings, 53% of those who tweet a brand, expect a response no later than within an hour. And if the tweet is negative, the figure rises to an impressive 72%!


Have control over your account


Even if you delegate the task to an external agency, you should still closely monitor how they're handling your reputation. Before hiring a social media agency, have a look at its credentials and references – client testimonials are really valuable.


Now, you might think this is a bit too much, but remember what happened to Chrysler – in 2011. New Media Strategies responsible for the @ChryslerAutos account tweeted the following: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f#*!ing drive.” Consumers were outraged and Chrysler quickly deleted the tweet – still, it really hurt the company’s image.


Monitor the situation


Keep up with what's being said about your company on Twitter through various social listening tools, like Topsy, Icerocket or TweetDeck. That way you'll immediately know if something goes wrong and be able to quickly react and repair your reputation.


And, perhaps most importantly – always be honest. Respond quickly and be transparent. Twitter can be a tricky medium of communication, but as long as you maintain a consistent voice, you're on the safe side.


Monique Craig is a blogger and marketing specialist, who works for Oneflare, an Australian online marketplace, which connects customers with service providers.


Image credit: Flickr/mdgovpics


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