Trial by Twitter: How to Avoid the Social Media Trap

Social media
Social media

Every week, we hear of yet another unsuspecting social media user who has fallen victim to the Twitter trap.

A seemingly innocent post can quickly escalate if the context is misunderstood, or indeed if it is considered controversial. From the highly publicised affairs of Paris Brown, the UK’s first youth police and crime commissioner, to the scores of high-profile brands that have been forced to humbly apologies after one embarrassing gaffe or another, it seems nobody is immune to ‘trial by Twitter’.

Fresh Business Thinking recently published research by IBM relating to social media misdemeanors, and the results are shocking. Business centre operators should pay attention to these stats – and take the time to review their social media strategy accordingly.

The study found that:

  • Half of businesses are “unprepared to handle a reputation crisis”
  • 94% believe that they are vulnerable to ‘trial by twitter’
  • 57% of top CEOs across the UK and Ireland believe that social media will become one of the most important forms of customer interaction within the next 3-5 years

According to Dave Ogden, Solutions Consultant at Aspect Software, companies are well aware of the potential detrimental impact that social media can have – “yet few are taking steps to protect themselves.”

Given the speed of social media and the constantly shifting consumer communication landscape, Ogden believes that organisations are failing to keep up.

“Speed is of the essence, now more than ever,” he says. “The digital revolution has not just changed the way we interact, but has had a huge impact on the business world as well, and at a much faster pace than most expected. Organisations have been slow to adapt to this rapidly changing landscape and many are now paying the price as the power shifts to the hands of the consumer.”

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How to avoid a Twitter gaffe

The advice for business centre operators is simple: think before you tweet. There are no end of articles detailing one Twitter gaffe after another. Here are some of the most humiliating ways in which a company can slip up – so be sure to avoid these misdemeanors at all costs:

  • Using a tragedy to promote your brand or products. If you do fall into this trap, or if you’re wondering how to react publicly to a largescale disaster, try these useful tips by Kellen Company.
  • Accidentally tweeting a personal comment from your business account. Cringeworthy – particularly if it’s a tweet that falls considerably below your professional standards!
  • Saying something that could be misinterpreted in a bad light – or just saying something outright offensive.
  • Deleting posts after the damage has been done. Thanks to the power of screenshots, and the infinite nature of online activity, you can rarely get away with deleting a comment post-publication. Once the damage has been done, your only hope is to own up and deal with the reaction as best you can.

Above all, plan ahead and be sure that the right person is taking care of your social media. A few tweets here and there might seem innocuous enough, but don’t forget that social media is the public face of your company. Would you really entrust the fate of your entire business centre brand to just anyone? Mistakes happen all too easily – get it wrong, and you could be the next one facing the dreaded ‘trial by Twitter’.

Prevention is better than cure, so take the time to put a strategy in place and get it right from the start. You’ll reap the rewards.

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