Bad tweets happen to everyone. Including organizations. That’s just the nature of social media. Or human nature for that matter. Unlike with a person-to-person interaction at a bricks and mortar location, social media is very public and for all to see, share, and participate in. Social media is word of mouth with a megaphone.
How an organization responds to a tweet #fail is crucial.
What started out as a pretty routine exchange between a passenger disgruntled over a delay and the social media customer service team of US Airways. You could insert any airline and it would have been the same. I’m pretty sure most of us who have smart phones with social networking apps on them and travel, have had similar tweets wondering the status of our flights. I know when I’m delayed I jump on Twitter and tweet the airline’s handle. They usually are prompt and we often end up having a conversation about what is going on. All very pleasant in my experience. The volume of tweets they have to manage is huge. So sometimes I hear nothing and that’s no big deal.
Everything pretty standard in the exchange. Then the tone changes with the next response. The person tweeting on the US Airways’ handle responds in a standard way attaching a photo. The photo was far from standard and would be considered pornographic. (Hence I’m not showing the un-cropped version or linking to the photo, that’s what Google is for.)
US Airways responded well to an individual social media customer service representative’s meltdown. What happened was, as one of my former co-worker’s would say, a thinking thought which should have stayed in your head forever, but instead traveled from your brain to your fingers and snuck out for all to see. I’m safe to say we’ve all had those moments professional and unfortunately thinking thoughts slip out becoming talking ones.
What did US Airways do right?
US Airways managed it by:
- Monitoring their feed. They responded within an hour. I’m pretty sure their dashboard was showing a huge uptick in mentions which set off alerts that something was going on.
- Deleting this offensive tweet. It is fine to delete a tweet that is overtly offensive affronting community norms like the photo.
- Apologizing for the offensive tweet. They said they were sorry. Acknowledging the mistake in the proper tone goes a long way toward restoring faith in the brand. The response on Twitter towards US Airways has been positive.
Sure they’ve taken a temporary ding to their reputation and lots of folks are having a laugh at their expense, but in the long run something like this isn’t going to affect them. People are still going to fly US Airways unless their planes start falling out of the sky on a regular basis or their prices triple. End of this story.
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