MCSMN Blog

February 18, 2011

Friday Faux Pas: “Rogue” Tweet via HootSuite

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Editor's Note: This is part of an occasional series called Friday Faux Pas, which highlights missteps in social media by health-related organizations. We believe social media are overwhelmingly a force for good, but we're not blind to potential problems. This series helps maintain the balance, and in looking at each faux pas we want to highlight how it might have been prevented and also how the organization responded. Alyson Fleming, who works in our external relations group at Mayo Clinic, spotted this one.

The Huffington Post recently reported our latest faux pas involving a social media specialist at the Red Cross:

Everyone makes mistakes, but it's not everyday those mistakes result in a rogue tweet on the American Red Cross' Twitter account.

The original tweet (posted below) was posted accidentally by Gloria Huang, a Red Cross social media specialist, and stayed up for about an hour Tuesday night, according to Mashable.

Huang later blamed the mistake on her "inability to use Hootsuite."

Hootsuite is a service that enables users to manage multiple Twitter accounts.

...the Red Cross' response and ensuing apologies have been somewhat light-hearted:

Analysis:

This faux pas is another example of why proper and continual training in the use of social media tools is essential in avoiding potentially embarrassing mistakes.

The Red Cross responded quickly by removing the post as soon as they were aware of the mishap and managed to avoid further controversy by supporting their employee. By acknowledging their mistake openly, the Red Cross has actually gained positive feedback (and donations) from an audience to which they might not have been otherwise exposed.

The subject of the tweet was not as controversial as Kenneth Cole’s recent twitter blunder, and so the resulting media storm for the Red Cross was less furious.

Mistakes are bound to happen, but it’s the preparation for handling them and training to avoid them that make all the difference.

In an interview with We Love DC, Huang expressed the lessons she learned and offers some simple advice:

“Double check tweets. Make it hard to even commit this mistake in the first place. And if all that fails, acknowledge the mistake, see it in perspective, and be humble!”

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