You’ve probably considered what would happen if the wrong message was sent over Twitter to the wrong individual or group or got into the hands of the wrong person. Unfortunately, US Airways doesn’t have to wonder; the company experienced its very own social-media disaster on Twitter Monday.
According to Forbes, the airline posted an image that fell into the porn category – a naked woman with a toy plane – on its official Twitter account that boasts over 428,000 followers.
According to the airline, the image was tweeted to them by another user not related to the company. From there, a member of the social-media team for US Airways attached the pornographic image to a reply – also through Twitter – to a customer who had been awaiting a response to a flight-delay complaint.
Following the mishap, US Airways posted a public statement, also through Twitter, that read, “We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.”
Furthermore, as shared by The Washington Post, after a review the airline decided against firing the team member who shared the post because it was considered to be a mistake. However, the spokesperson made it clear that the company regrets the mistake and plans on carefully reviewing policies relating to social media going forward.
While you can hope that your own social-media strategy is more solid, and that a mistake would not have the reach or impact of the one made by the US Airways employee, it’s important to be proactive. In fact, by planning in advance, any company – from a local gun shop to a Fortune 500 company – can be prepared.
Create a Policy
The days of banning social-media access at work are long gone. In fact, many companies encourage employees to use social media for branding purposes. However, it should not be viewed as a free-for-all. By putting together a social-media policy that explains procedures, limitations and overall purpose, and having all employees sign off on it, you’re protecting your image and what is posted in the future.
There’s a difference between monitoring activity and overstepping privacy boundaries. Pay attention to what’s being shared on social-media sites, set up an alert system to find out when your company is mentioned and pay attention to key networks. By following what’s happening, less is likely to slide by and your social-media strategy is more likely to be successful.
Prepare for Disaster
If nothing else can be taken away by US Airways’ mishap, it’s that sometimes disaster happens; it only takes a split second for things to go from good to crisis mode. Should something be posted that is detrimental, following the airline’s example is best. Promptly deleting anything that was a mistake and addressing it publically, without hiding anything, is the most widely accepted and appreciated practice. Transparency matters nowhere more than online, especially on social-media networks.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be faced with a social-media mishap that becomes national news, it’s best to prepare. Take the time to understand the power of social media, harness it appropriately within your brand strategy and be ready for any circumstance that should arise.
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