Twitter was born of the instant message/text message mania that now keeps teens and adults alike glued to their smartphones. Tweets are kept forever unless deleted, but the social media outlet moves so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. Having just 140 characters to work with has fostered innovations such as Hashtags and text-speak.
Among the biggest pitfalls for companies using social media is the social gaff. Like the awkward party goer who makes an inappropriate joke among the wrong crowd, brands have to be careful about what they say, because the global crowd encompasses everyone in the world.
Do not use hashtags in a tweet, Facebook post, or Google Plus post without first researching the tag. As Di Giorno pizza recently learned, not every hashtag is suitable for use by brands.
To recap, Ray Rice is an NFL Football Player recently banned from the league after a video surfaced that showed him knocking his wife out with a punch to the face. After the video surfaced and the NFL took action, a number of women were sharing their own stories of abuse on twitter using the hashtags #WhyILeft and #WhyIStayed. The person who tweets for Di Giorno Pizza saw the hashtags trending and tweeted without looking at the hashtag first.
#WhyIStayed You Had Pizza
It was meant as a joke without realizing what the hashtag was used for. The tweet was deleted just seconds later when the tweeter realized their mistake, but Di Giorno spent the next two days making individual apologies to outraged twitter users.
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 are a horrible memory for many people in the United States. The day is now remembered as Patriot Day and it seems that many brands have not learned to stay away. When brands tweet in remembrance on days like this, even without mention of their brand, the reaction of many is that they are capitalizing on that day.
The fact is, people don’t see brands as people because most of the time, brands don’t act like people. While we could have a discussion about how that should change, it won’t alter the fact that people react badly to corporate tweets on days of remembrance.
What did people applaud? Check out this tweet from Verizon on September 10, 2014. Note the absence of the #911NeverForget or #NeverForget hashtags.
In observance of 9/11, this handle will be silent tomorrow. We will resume sharing on September 12.
A few other brands did not tweet about 9/11 and used the day only to respond to tweets directed at them. The proverbial “moment of silence” won the day.
When Auburn University lost the BCS Championship, Denny’s tweeted a picture of a map that showed 47 locations along the route home. The tweet had garnered more than 6200 retweets and 2800 favorites within three weeks.
If it’s any consolation to Auburn fans, there are 47 chances to win on the way home #BCSChampionship #BCS
Clearly this tweet was a winner and an example of how newsjacking can work very well for brand engagement.
But not every newsworthy event is worthy of newsjacking. When Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey, The Gap tried to suggest that people should stay home and take advantage of online sales by shopping at The Gap.
All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?
The accompanying picture included text that read, “In case you’re bored during the storm, 20% off everything – for the next 36 hours” and included a graphic of the area Sandy was expected to impact.
Many consumers reacted badly while high profile blogs and websites publicly called the brand out for the misstep. It wasn’t a good day for American Apparel.
Twitter Mistakes to Avoid!
Anything that involves tragedy or disaster is a poor choice for brand promotion, even if the intent is not promotion and truly represents sentiment. #NeverForget is a phrase and hashtag closely associated with the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Don’t turn your brand into one that people never forget for the wrong reason.
So, keep this article in mind “Avoid these three twitter Mistakes-Look before you Tweet!”
Image: Hashtag Cloud by Morganimation