Is Twitter dangerous? Should agencies ban their reps … particularly their junior reps … from using it? Or at least stay awake nights fretting about risk? Lately, there have been a slew of Twitter-related PR gaffes by unlucky (or irresponsible or unenlightened) PR types that have made senior agency and in-house executives particularly uneasy. But is their fear misplaced?
1. The creators of video game Duke Nukem fired their PR firm The Redner Group after their rep tweeted the following threat to reviewers: « Too many went too far with their reviews … we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom. »
2. A PR rep manning Chrysler’s Twitter account likely misapplied the following Tweet to his client’s corporate account rather than his own personal account (either way, it’s bad) : « I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive. »
3. Similarly, an internal social media resource at the Red Cross, made the following Twitter gaffe: « Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd. » The Red Cross apparently has a sense of humour, posting the following after deleting the tweet: « We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys. » The incident actually turned into a fundraising opportunity, thanks to the good people at Dogfish Head.
4. If you’re a fan of the classics, you’ll appreciate this flashback to 2009, when a Ketchum exec tweeted his distaste for the city of Memphis a few short hours after teaching FedEx employees all about Twitter at their Memphis head office: « True confession but i’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say I would die if I had to live here! » FedEx was not amused.
While I’m of the mind that these incidents speak more to very poor judgement than to the perils of Twitter, and that instilling solid values is what agencies should do to ensure their employees communicate professionally no matter the communications channel, there are a few things you can do to ensure this kind of slip up doesn’t happen at your PR agency:
1. Don’t mix business with pleasure: Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite have features that let you manage multiple accounts. Choosing one for client accounts and another for your personal account means that there’s little risk of mistweeting.
2. Be transparent: While it’s not best practice, many brands turn a portion … if not all … of their tweeting responsibility over to their PR agencies. They should do so transparently, ensuring tweets are identified; using initials is standard practice. At least this way followers can identify the actual source and not necessarily link it to the brand (in an ideal world, anyway). It might help if accidents happen.
3. Remember crisis management 101: Own up to the error and, if possible and appropriate, keep a sense of humour about it. Social media is fluid and moves quickly. A well placed mea culpa and a bit of self-effacing humour can go a long way to quickly cooling off a heated crisis.
4. Think twice before hitting submit, share or reply: do you really want to spew venom through social media channels when you’re managing accounts that aren’t your own? Don’t let momentary rage or frustration get in the way of good client relations and a reputation you’ve cultivated over time.
5. Be prepared: Maintaining an active Twitter presence, becoming part of the community and ensuring your brand’s account always has a human face is the best way to ensure your Twitter account isn’t seen as the impersonal mouthpiece of a faceless corporation. The community understands that to err is human, so be human.
As for the Duke Nukem example, threatening people, online or off, usually isn’t the best course of action. Just saying.
Charlie Sheen has been a tabloid favourite for years … unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. This week has seen the American actor on a media tour, appearing on daytime and late night television talk shows from 20/20, to Good Morning America, to Piers Morgan Tonight.
Yesterday saw the appearance of a verified Charlie Sheen Twitter account (@charliesheen). The buzz spread from traditional media outlets and influential online publications like Mashable to the Twittersphere itself like wildfire.
According to Mashable:
Haven’t had your fill of Charlie Sheen’s rants? Now you can get them via 140-character messages, because the actor’s Twitter handle has officially been confirmed.
In a matter of minutes, Sheen has acquired more than 60,000 followers and a Klout score of 57 — without even tweeting.
That last sentence is particularly worrisome to social media specialists who turn to Klout for an analysis of online influence. The reason? While the fact that Twitter had verified the account ensured credibility, Sheen’s profile included no avatar, no biography and .. most importantly .. not a single tweet.
Within the hour, Sheen’s account had risen to 133,644 followers. Twelve minutes later, those figures had ballooned to 147,149, an increase of 14 000+. Still not a single tweet.
What does this mean for the credibility of tools like Klout that measure online influence? It means that they measure influence based exclusively on quantity, and not quality. It means that they don’t take much else into account (if anything).
Adriaan Pelzer of RAAK of Nexalogy Environics here in Montreal recently ran a test of Klout, based on this hypothesis and the results are quite compelling. A series of four automated bots, tweeting relative nonsense, quickly attracted followers (mostly other bots) and reached a Klout score of 51, 37, 26 and 25 respectively. That last first figure is higher than mine and either higher or slightly lower than that of other Montreal influencers and early-Twitter adopters like tech bloggers Laurent Maisonnave and Sylvain GrandMaison, art of entertaining and design blogger Kim Vallée and fashion blogger Cindy Laverdière (CindyLou of Mode Trotter).
What does this mean for you?
Well … it’s important, as in everything, to be critical in our use of tools that measure social media influence. Klout is only one example of many. No tool is perfect. These tools should be used as part of a larger mix. They should provide guidance, but not represent a bible of online influence measurement.
After all, if you’re into green glowing snow-ball abacuses, and there’s only a widow in Wales and a teenager in Chile interested in green glowing snow-ball abacuses too, and you’re only interested in following their Tweets, Klout isn’t likely to judge you favourably. But think about the quality of the tweets the only three people in the world into green glowing snow-ball abacuses can exchange with one another. Of the influence they can have within their tiny niche.
If you’re selling green glowing snow-ball abacuses, do you want to reach out to these three Twitter users? Or do you want to reach out to Charlie Sheen?
I think the answer is clear.
Will I continue to use Klout? Absolutely … as I always have. With a grain of salt. As a jumping off point. As one measurement tool among the many which — along with my knowledge of online networks and my own judgement — allow me to create a portrait of the online influencer I may present to my client in an influencer audit or as a possible participant in a blogger outreach campaign.
Online tools are great, but in the end nothing beats experience and human judgement.
Now … don’t get me started on sentiment analysis!
* Note: To his credit, Klout founder and CEO Joe Fernandez responded to Adriaan Pelzer’s assertion that Klout is broken in the blog post’s comments section as follows:
I am one of the cofounders and the ceo here at Klout. This is a great post, even though we get slammed
A couple things:
- Clearly there is more we can do to recognize and punish bots. This is something we are working on and I think you’ll be impressed with what we have coming. That said, this is an incredibly hard problem that even Twitter still has trouble with (judging from the clear spam bots I see following me and not disappearing).
- The score right now is actually doing what it’s supposed to in the sense that it’s measuring engagement. Take a look at search for @burroughsbot (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%40BurroughsBot). This account is actually getting way more engagement then it should. We do measure for noisiness but obviously we need to look at how we handle extreme cases like this.
We have a science team working on stuff like this on a daily basis. Post like this get us really fired up so I am excited about your challenge to step our game up.
Would love to chat sometime about how we can throw some data your way for some more independent testing.
Hat tip to Diane Bourque who followed the growth of Twitter followers after I’d shared the Mashable article with my Facebook network and provided the statistics contained within this blog post.
For posterity: Charlie Sheen’s first tweet. At time of publication of this post, he was at 817,083 followers and had been included on 5569 Twitter lists.
Vous êtes occupés. Vous avez des projets importants à lancer, une stratégie à implanter, des employés à gérer. Vous n’avez tout simplement pas le temps pour les médias sociaux. Ou même pour les considérer.
Votre marque doit être protégée à tout prix. Vos secrets industriels sont trop importants pour que vous preniez le moindre risque qu’un employé fasse fausse route et dévoile vos stratégies à la compétition sur Facebook ou dans son blogue. La transparence et l’authenticité? Jamais de la vie.
Vous devrez simplement continuer à communiquer comme avant, c’est tout et ça finit là.
Votre entreprise doit être pas mal plus occupée que l’armée américaine. Et ses secrets encore plus sensibles.
Stephen R. Lanza, grand responsable des affaires publiques de l’armée (qui doit passer son temps à se tourner les pouces) dit ceci dans la lettre qui accompagne le guide d’utilisation des médias sociaux 2011 de l’armée américaine:
You already know that communicating your organisation’s messages is important. Today, it takes more than press releases to successfully communicate. Being an effective Army communicator today relies on proactive planning, nesting messages, engaging audiences on a variety of platforms, monitoring what is being said both online and in traditional media, and taking a proactive role in telling the Army’s story.
Our Soldiers and their Family members are the strength of our nation. Nine years of persistent conflict have shaped our shared experiences, which can be told through the social media platforms to assist those new to our Army Family. This builds resiliency in the force and makes our Army strong. Soldiers have always been and always will be our greatest story tellers, and social media tools allow us to tell their story more effectively.
Parce que l’armée américaine n’a rien d’autre à faire, c’est certain.
Le guide d’utilisation des médias sociaux 2011, publiée et rendue publique par l’armée américaine est disponible sur Slideshare.
Belles à Bloguer, ce n’est pas seulement de belles rencontres avec des blogueuses montréalaises, mais la possibilité d’aller chercher les ressources nécessaires pour adhérer aux meilleures pratiques.
Avis aux intéressés: si vous cherchez des photos libres de droits pour votre blogue ou autres publications, consultez Wikimedia Commons.
Leur photo du jour:
File:Ardea alba; 3 chicks, Morro Bay Heron Rookery 2 - by Mike Baird.jpg
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
You are free:
* to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
* to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
* attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).