Chrysler F-bomb reaction: Do brands fully appreciate the power of social media?

Social media experts discuss Chrysler's reaction to its now infamous accidental F-bomb tweet, and whether companies fully understand the power of social media.

The culprit for the entire situation, Scott Bartosiewicz, who has since lost his job at the agency, has blamed Tweetdeck for sending out a message that should have actually gone out through his own account.

We spoke to some social media experts from across the UK and asked their view as to whether companies understood the impact that a single tweet could have upon their brand, whether the responsibility of social media was being treated with enough respect.

Tweeting personal comments from a business or client account is being reported on in the news frequently these days.

It is unfortunate that often with large brands, that person ends up losing their job.

The Red Cross handled it very well a couple weeks ago, by acknowledging the Twitter incident was an accident and apologising to the online community.

The social media tools that allow users to operate multiple Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to be used simultaneously is a gift and a curse; affecting not only interns or junior execs, but senior employees also.

The problem is that social media & digital technology are renowned for speed. This in turn instills a sense of urgency for some people and thus mistakes happen – sometimes to a detrimental level.

The solution: slow down, double check and do not store any company or client accounts on your smartphone.

Darcie Tanner, account manager at BigmouthMedia

Many companies fall foul in believing that social media can be a casual activity for a member of staff to perform in addition to their other jobs, but as with all marketing and communication activity it requires structure and planning in order to avoid disasters.

It is vital to remember that on Twitter companies are communicating and sharing information with people who have actively seeked them out and, in many cases, see their tweets immediately and share with their peers within seconds of the tweet being published, meaning they no longer have control of it.

For this reason the people responsible for tweeting need clear instructions on how to manage their

Twitter activity, especially if it is the responsibility of an intern or junior exec.

It is best policy that the person tweeting should not log into any other accounts from the computer they are working from, in many cases if people want to send personal tweets they can be done from their phones and avoid cases like Chrysler.

Daniel Ashcroft, digital Mmarketing executive at KMP Digitata

Whatever we thought about Twitter when it first emerged, it's clear to everyone that this is a dead-serious grown-up communication tool. It's how brands tell their stories, thought leaders connect with audiences and businesses interact with customers. Put it in the wrong hands and you have a problem.

I'm not advocating Twitter should never be in the hands of a junior exec; us digital immigrants should remember we can learn a lot from the digital natives. But it does need managing professionally like any other communication channel. Whoever you put in charge of your Twitter account is effectively your company spokesperson on one of the most important platforms around. So choose wisely!

Of course, even for a global brand, Twitter can still feel a very human tool. And that means slip-ups may happen. There's no way to protect against that but at Mason Zimbler we have a simple mantra: 'think before you tweet'

James Trezona, MD at Mason Zimbler

Social media can be looser than usual communication methods. The odd slip up is bound to happen, but brands need to be careful about who handles the comms. If it is a junior person, then maybe sign off on Tweets is a good idea, and restricting access to the account.

But if you really want to make the best use of Twitter, you need to fully trust the person / people in charge of the account, whoever that may be, and in some cases, it might be fruitful to allow them to be a spokesperson and ‘own’ the account. If their name is attached to it, people can be more forgiving and the account owner might be less likely to make mistakes.

The Chrysler Twitter fiasco was dealt with in the correct way. Mistakes can happen, but in this case, on top of a mistake, they were openly criticising their client on a social platform. Who does that? That’s seriously dozy and careless.

Rebecca Rae, social media architect at PUSHON

At the end of the day social media mistakes come down to simple human error. You can put the most experienced 'social media expert' in charge of a Twitter stream, but even they make mistakes. I use Tweetdeck and currently tweet from both my personal account and The Cool Commentator account, and I have often found myself tweeting from the wrong one. It is okay for me as I only have myself to answer to, unlike most people tweeting for big brands.

My point is this: brands need to understand that exploring social media comes with it's risks, but the benefits far out weight these. There is already a conversation happening around your brand, even the most obscure, so you may as well jump right in and get on with it. The best way to manage Twitter accounts is to put a system of sign off and collaboration in place - but even this might let some comments slip through the net, it is inevitable - just be brave and go for it.

I think New Media Strategies were wrong to fire the staffer - if they had kept him on, with a bit of a telling off, surely he would be less likely to make the same mistake again than a new face with his finger on the trigger?

Tom Cleeland, founder of The Cool Commentator

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