140 characters. That’s all it takes for your company to experience controversy and serious damage to its reputation. Of course, I’m talking about Twitter gaffes. From offensive remarks to leaking confidential information, these Twitter gaffes come in many different forms.
The good news is there are plenty of Twitter mistakes made by others that you can learn from. With celebrities jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, we’ve seen a lot of controversy over the past year, and I’m going to show you how you can avoid making the same mistakes to keep your brand safe and sound.
- Courtney Love gets sued – Back in March 2009, an Austin, Texas fashion designer announced she was suing Courtney Love for slanderous Tweets Love made about her. The libel claim said that Love exhibited an intense level of animosity that was unreasonable and unacceptable. There was also plenty of vulgarity and name-calling from Love.
What can you learn from this? The lesson here is that there are legal implications to what you say on Twitter, your blog, or elsewhere online. If you’re using Twitter to promote your brand, everyone in your company needs to be made fully aware of this fact, and they need to be trained on the best practices for using Twitter professionally.
- Larry Johnson’s offensive Tweets get him fired – Athletes and Twitter don’t seem to mix well. The most recent Twitter controversy involving an athlete centered on former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson. The trouble began when Johnson criticized his coaches on his Twitter page. Then, a Chiefs fan Tweeted some negative to the running back, and Johnson’s response landed him in an even bigger world of trouble. Johnson hurled a gay slur at the fan, which led to a suspension and eventually his firing from the Chiefs.
What can you learn from this? There are many things you can learn from the Larry Johnson incident, but the most important takeaway is that offensive language can cause serious damage to your and your company’s reputation. Remember, people from all different backgrounds and with different beliefs are following you, so you need to maintain a healthy balance between being personable and remaining professional. The last thing you need is someone picketing your company because an employee Tweeted an offensive slur.
- Alice Hoffman burns bridges – After receiving a negative review of her book in the Boston Globe, author Alice Hoffman had a Twitter meltdown. She blasted the reviewer by calling her a moron and an idiot. The tirade spanned over a few Tweets, and it made Hoffman look like a self-absorbed, whiny celebrity who couldn’t handle criticism (and the review wasn’t even that negative).
What can you learn from this? In the new world of social media, people are going to say things you don’t like. Handling criticism and negative comments properly is a must. Don’t get overly defensive, and never resort to name-calling. If you do respond, make sure you’re professional and respectful.
- Jeffrey Frederick blows the deal by leaking details – Perhaps the biggest Twitter goat of all time is Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey Frederick. See, a state senate Democrat was getting ready to jump sides to the Republican Party, thus giving them the majority vote. However, Frederick Tweeted about it before it was finalized, and the Democrats rushed in to prevent it from happening.
What can you learn from this? Whenever a big deal is in the works or a new product idea is created, you might be tempted to Tweet about it out of excitement. Never mention anything until it’s 100% finalized. You can instantly kill the deal and shoot yourself in the foot.
Which other major Twitter gaffes have you seen? What can be learned from them? Share your thoughts in the replies.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.