Today, Twitter exploded as US Airways, refusing to be beaten by a marketing strapline, went one better than Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Flying in the face of ordinary’ campaign…
It’s a normal day in Tempe, Arizona. You’re sitting in your office, just doing your job – replying to people on Twitter for @USAirways. Life is good.
Then you get an email. It’s from that bloke in the office – you know, THAT bloke who always cuts it pretty fine when it comes to office humour, sending NSFW stuff to everyone because bollocks to management, yay!
You open the email. It’s a joke about finding that lost 777. Sigh. There’s a link to a picture on Twitter, but for some reason it’s not blue. Just a quick peek. Won’t hurt. You ctrl+c the link, paste it into the browser and hit go. A plane has crashed into a naked woman’s junk. Hilarious. You tut at that bloke, wondering how the hell he’s still got a job. A quick trip to the water cooler and a chat with that girl you like from accounts, and then it’s back to work. People to help, tweets to send.
Someone’s unhappy with the service she’s received. Her name is Elle. You should help her. You follow the process as usual – tell her that feedback is welcome and drop her a link where she can leave her comments. Just paste it on in there – it’s the link you’ve been giving people all day, so it’s still on your clipboard. Right?
According to USA Today, US Airways has blamed someone else, “…The image was initially posted to our Twitter feed by another user. We captured the tweet to flag it as inappropriate. Unfortunately the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer”
We’ll ignore the thing about ‘another user’ posting it to their Twitter feed, as we all know that’s not possible in the literal sense – if someone tweeted it to @USAirways, it obviously wouldn’t appear in their feed. Whatever – the bottom line here is that someone didn’t check their copy/paste text before tweeting from a corporate account. It’s that simple.
Doing social media for a brand is risky business – one of the riskiest, in fact. You have to keep your wits about you, without fail, every second, or there’s a good chance things could turn very ugly, very quickly. There have been plenty of examples of social media staffers dropping the ball, mainly sending a tweet from their personal account, only to find that they’re logged in as the brand. Chrysler once alienated a whole city, while Vodafone alienated half of the species (Sorry, red team – couldn’t resist).
Although I’m sure there have been other copy/paste disasters, I can’t think of one right now. But that doesn’t really matter, because every social media fail to date pales in comparison to this one.
The problem is, these kinds of errors are so easy to make – catastrophe is only ever a mouse-click away. So here are five rules that I made for myself to never, ever break:
- If you log in to the brand’s social account, do what you need to do and then log out. Now.
- Don’t log in to the brand account on your phone. If you really have to, then do so on a different app – have one app for personal Twitter, one app for work Twitter, and never the twain shall meet.
- The chances are, you’ve got more connected devices than you can shake a stick at. Use them. Don’t look at crap on your work computer.
- When you tweet from your personal account, check that’s what you’re doing. It takes less than a second to glance at the screen.
- Never EVER trust copy & paste. Always test the link before posting.
Luckily, following these rules has helped prevent me from causing one of these monumental cock-ups. But that could change in an instant at any time. That’s always with me and, if you have access to a brand’s social page, it should always be with you too.