When I heard about the Red Cross “Twitter Faux Pas” my first thought was “Oh no, that’s my worst nightmare!” As a PR student, I monitor my personal Twitter page and the Twitter page for my internship at HIV Alliance – both of which are set up on my smart phone. Every time I post from my phone, I check which account I am logged into a minimum of three times before I press enter. You could call me paranoid, although the Red Cross blunder reaffirmed my paranoid routine. Inappropriate posting to the wrong account happens and I don’t want to be the one posting a retraction tweet.
Worst case scenario, I would follow Red Cross’ example – Red Cross handled its “faux pas” with grace and brilliance. Once Red Cross processed the fact that “yes, this did just happen – personal content was just tweeted to the professional account,” it has the right state of mind to know the tweet in question could not be simply deleted. Once content is posted, it is out there in the Internet universe, circulating and gaining attention and momentum. Plus, if the tweet in question were deleted, issues of transparency could pop up for Red Cross and then Red Cross would be in a bigger blunder than before. Instead, Red Cross quickly took a print screen of the tweet and deleted it from its feed. The next morning, a new blog post was up on the Red Cross website where people could see the tweet in question and read Red Cross’ explanation of events and decisions.
Like any public apology, Red Cross admits their mistakes, shows evidence, corrects said mistake and explains the situation from their point of view – all with a sense of humor and humanity. What is even more great about this is the fact that this “apology” was posted on a blog, allowing for easy finding via search engines and allowing for comments.
I would have taken it one step further – instead of just mentioning the pledges of donations from Twitter followers, I would have turned the situation into a call to action, like Dog Fish Beer did. Red Cross could have followed up its “apology” tweet with something like “We are all human and we all make mistakes. And sometimes we all need a helping hand (with link to donation).” Due to the “faux pas” Red Cross probably had a lot more traffic to its Twitter profile than on an ordinary day and it would have been a great time to try and capitalize on the extra attention.