Recently I’ve had several conversations about the importance of being authentic and using your natural voice to engage with your friends or customers on social media platforms. I know that’s not exactly earth-shattering news or a new conversation at all, but a few people had not been following the example that I cited from the American Red Cross. Here’s a brief summary of the events.
On February 15 at 11:24 p.m., Gloria Huang, Social Media Specialist for the American Red Cross thought she was tweeting to her personal Twitter account. Instead the message, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd,” was tweeted out to all of the Red Cross’ 200,000 plus Twitter followers. Anyone who uses a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite (like Gloria was) to manage their personal and corporate social media accounts knows how easily this could happen simply by selecting the wrong account icon.
Within an hour the offending tweet had been deleted and Wendy Harman, Social Media Director for the Red Cross provided this response on Twitter: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
Harmon expanded her response on the Red Cross Blog. “In the meantime we found so many of you to be sympathetic and understanding. While we’re a 130-year-old humanitarian organization, we’re also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good,” she wrote. “You immediately embraced this mix-up and many of you have pledged donations to the Red Cross.”
While there may have been a few nasty replies to the error, the majority of responses were positive and supporting of Huang and the organization. Yes, she kept her job. By being open, human and consistently providing value through their social media outlets, the American Red Cross had built up considerable social capital with their followers.