Monday, June 28, 2010

Casual Tweets Cost ......Lots!

In an update to my post on social media risk multipliers it seems that the "Casual"  and "Open" nature of real time web interaction are the key multipliers that gets both individuals and organisations into trouble.

( Image: Chris Sharp / FreeDigitalPhotos.net )

Having reviewed a number of the high profile Twitter and Facebook mistakes it is clear that real time web 'slip ups' are not restricted to one sector of society. Private individuals, celebs, employees, businesses and even local councillors have all run into hot water using this transparent and casual communication medium.

For example:

1.Celebrities

As reported in the Guardian, Chris Evans recently had to apologise for retweeting a joke about poverty in Africa.  Evans is quoted as saying he "had not read it properly" before retweeting.  It is this split second decision to re-tweet with properly reading or thinking that caused Evans' embarrassment.

Think:  how many times have you re-tweeted without looking at the link in the original tweet.  What if it were pornographic?

On this topic, I can see link hijacking as a growing problem and trend.

2. Brands

Habitat is probably the best known example of a brand having a social media PR problem.  The story goes that an intern casually promoted habitat products via a hashtag discussing the Iranian election.  This resulted in negative PR and a twitter backlash.

Think:  how many times do you use a hashtag without looking at the conversation that it is being used for?


3. Employees

As reported by the BBC, Vigrin Atlantic sacked 13 staff for calling passengers as "Chavs" on facebook.  No doubt the social side of Facebook led to these employees communicating with their guard down. 

Think: how many times do you interact on facebook and how many people can see those updates and posts?  How will your personal thoughts reflect on you and your business?

4. Businesses

Businesses often discuss new client wins or client work to show off their credentials and as part of their PR strategies, but they do so via the real time web at alarming speed and often without sanction from a client. 

Conversely, I have seen businesses get into trouble for their staff tweeting opinions and promoting content that is contrary to the interest of their clients.  They have done this without thinking and again it comes back to the casual nature of the RTW. 

Think: what will my client think if they see this post/tweet/status update.  Can I afford to upset them?

Don't forget clients will be trending their names and sectors!

5. Political Animals
 
Stuart McLennan was the labour candidate  who was sacked after making casual remarks using twitter.  He is quoted as describing old people as "coffin dodgers" and obviously didn't realise or was relaxed about his informal comments.

Think: are my comments appropriate, they will be published to the world.

Whilst I can't confess to have discussed these issues personally with the parties involved it appears from the reports that casual and open communication has cost jobs, careers, brand image and trust.

For me the key is to only tweet, post, like, retweet or interact in a way that you do not mind the rest of the world knowing about.      
                

However, whilst we can  think, plan, trend and create policies and strategies to manage and prevent these situations, nothing prepares you for a disgruntled employee.  For example Vodafone apologised to its followers after a tweet was sent from its account saying "VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo's and is going after beaver".

How would you manage such a situation? 

8 comments:

Julian Summerhayes said...

Matt

Without wanting to jump to the defence of any one person or organisation, I suspect that the recognised standards of free speech will evolve over time to take account of the contextual and nuanced meanings of 140 characters or FB postings (or whatever platform exists). Also, organisations will adapt and there will be enshrined protocols so that staff know more precisely what they can and cannot do. I suspect that the lock down mentality will pervade for some time to come or you may even see the classic warning signs so emblematic on cigarette boxes: "This platform may seriously damage your ...". For me, I think responsibility must remain sacrosanct subject to the obvious risk of hackers and those that seeking to subvert the platforms for their own agenda.
Julian

Matthew Owen Gingell (MOG) said...

Julian I agree. I think two things will change or are already changing:

1. Attitudes to privacy
2. Attitudes to casual comments made on social networks

As the next generation comes to the fore but of these attitudes will be more relaxed.

I think that the current state of play in SM is a bit like Victorian England.

When do you predict the summer of love to arrive?

Alex Wren said...

Great article with some good points and advice. I think one of the biggest issues that users of social media face, is they do not realise just how open these networks are.

Combine this with the lack of technical knowledge and the trust that users place in set-ups, you can easily be lulled into a false sense of privacy and indulge in some 'water cooler' chat. Very dangerous. If in doubt - don't say it...

Matthew Owen Gingell (MOG) said...

Thanks Alex

I really like the phrase:

"a false sense of privacy"

sums it up perfectly!

江婷 said...

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文辰文辰 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

王名仁 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

PearleY建佑 said...

來拜訪你囉~期待你的下次文章~加油^^..................................................................