By: Toby Srebnik
One of the biggest social media mistakes brands continue to make is not thinking through a situation before hitting send on a keyboard or mobile device. It happened again earlier this week when DiGiorno Pizza’s attempt to engage with the hashtag #WhyIStayed completely backfired. While the brand routinely interjects itself and its brand of humor into trending hashtag topics, the DiGiorno social media team failed to research why #WhyIStayed was trending.
Earlier that day, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice was cut from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL when new video emerged from his domestic violent incident earlier this year. The new video became a discussion topic throughout social media Monday and led to frank domestic violence discussions occurring under the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.
Instead of clicking on the hashtag to see why #WhyIStayed was trending, the DiGiorno Pizza social media team tweeted this to its 82,000+ followers:
Within minutes, the account’s mentions made it clear they had made a mistake and they deleted their tweet and apologized:
Because of screenshots, deleting the tweet didn’t make the situation any better. To the company’s credit, the team managing the account has done a phenomenal job of apologizing using different words in every single tweet back to people who tweeted their displeasure at the company directly.
However, this situation begs the question: Why don’t brands safeguard their social media the way they would any other communication tools?
There are countless examples of companies marketing around a tragedy (http://www.alistdaily.com/news/epicurious-epic-fail-on-twitter), not realizing which account someone is logged into while tweeting a personal opinion (http://www.saatchis.com/the-kitchenaid-effect-a-social-media-snafu-at-its-finest/ ), or deleting comments from a Facebook page in response to something the brand posted (http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/chapstick-gets-itself-social-media-death-spiral-136097).
All of these things could be avoided if common sense principles are included when handing social media:
1) Interjecting your brand into a current events discussion without doing proper research beforehand can completely damage the brand’s credibility. Clearly, had the DiGiorno team spent 30 seconds reading through the #WhyIStayed tweets, they would have realized it was not a place to include their normal attempt at humor. Instead, they have spent the last 72+ hours apologizing to tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook.
2) Train the social media team to triple-check scheduled and real-time posts before hitting return. Many errors can be resolved before a post or tweet is ever sent to the general public by taking an extra 10 seconds to make sure everything reads properly and that a link takes a person to where the team wants them to go.
3) Being transparent at all times, whether it’s a crisis situation or not. Whereas Chapstick alienated a lot of social media fans by simply deleting consumer comments rather than answering them, DiGiorno realized their mistake immediately and hasn’t shied away from apologizing for it. Countless people have tweeted to them or posted on their Facebook page that they’ve done a great job of handling themselves following a social media snafu.
Bottom line: Brand social media teams should think before they tweet and have a plan in place on how to handle a crisis in case one arises.