Is social media the cause?

Throughout this whole blog so far, I have been talking about how social media can hep companies and people control a crisis quicker and easier than they were able to before social media was around. But what if in some cases social media is actual the cause of the crisis in the first place? Sometimes something slips and it can cause a giant problem for the company in question completely by accident. This is exactly what happened to the American Red Cross back in 2011.

An unfortunate incident occurred on the Red Cross’ Twitter account when an employee accidentally fired off a a personal tweet on the companies account. This kind of slip up can happen very easily when someone is using Hootsuite on a mobile device, which is exactly what happened here. This obviously is every company’s nightmare and something they would never want to happen. The tweet in question read “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”. Now obviously most people would see this tweet and automatically know it was a mistake but the way that the Red Cross responded diffused the situation in the best way they could.

They first started by deleting the aforementioned tweet. Now depending on the situation this move could come across as sketchy to a big audience that is very perceptive. But in the case of the Red Cross after deleting the tweet they immediately send out another acknowledging that yes the tweet was sent out and has now been deleted and explained that it was all a mistake.


Because of this witty tweet that recognizes the situation to the Red Cross’ audience, the tweet never turned into a major crisis. The Red Cross even went beyond this though by turning the potentially harmful tweet into an opportunity to engage better with their target audience. They then took to their corporate blog to explain the situation to their audience, show how human they were and engage with their fans. The situation was made even better by the fact that the person who sent out the tweet fessed up on their own personal Twitter with the same kind of humor that the company did.

There are two lesson to be learned from this incident with the Red Cross. The first is that although social media can usually be used in a positive way to help control a crisis or a situation faster, it can also cause one if you are not careful. This situation was obviously a complete accident but it was something that was entirely caused by social media. The second thing to be learned from this crisis is that if you respond honestly and openly to your audience, they will hear you out and most likely understand. The best way to get in touch with your audience is to show that you are not just a company but that there are humans behind running the company. If you show your humanity people are more likely to understand where you are coming from and not be so upset about a little mistake.


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