Many of us would have seen or heard some of the abuse author JK Rowling received earlier this week following her comments on the Scottish independence vote, that and the small matter of donating one million pounds to the No campaign. Firstly she’s done quite well out of a series of books she’s written (you may have heard of Harry Potter!!) and she’s perfectly entitled to do whatever she likes with her money. Secondly Scottish politics isn’t my thing and while I take notice of the upcoming vote my interests are elsewhere and I’m not promoting one side or the other.
The reason this story has caught my interests is that it again highlights how people and businesses use social media and how in some case they can get it catastrophically wrong. Since the birth of social media users and businesses have continued to tweet without thinking of the consequence of their actions or the impact their actions have on others.
A perfect example of this was The Dignity Project, there less than dignified tweet towards JK Rowling “What a #bitch after we gave her shelter in the city when she was a single mum” was widely condemned and rightly so. They later stated that their account had been hacked yet the tweet remains on their timeline at the point of writing this.
They have since have issued the following statement on the homepage of their site.
I can’t help thinking that this does seem like someone that ‘doth protest too much’. It seems strange that a hacker would choose JK Rowling as their target and only tweet once, it also seem strange that the tweet was not deleted immediately they noticed the alleged hack. The wording of the statement on the homepage is also strange in my opinion and there is still a distinct lack of an apology to JK Rowling, which you would assume would be the minimum requirement if the tweet wasn’t from them. They have also linked to articles that promote the “Yes” campaign in the past so it’s clear which side of the argument they are on.
There will be no way of telling just how this will effect donations to the charity but their actions have not displayed them in a favourable light and could have serious consequences on their abilities to help those they are trying to support. All of which leads me to think they know they have made a catastrophic error and are trying to backtrack as quickly as possible, it’s also an error which should and could be avoided.
Business that have twitter accounts should have a code of conduct for their staff to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen. It is also worth having a contingency plan in place should a member of staff tweet something which is not appropriate. This plan should include the removal of the tweet, the issuing of an apology and to take the focus on to a positive about the company.
Mistakes happen but it’s how you deal with them that important, in the case of The Dignity Project both the tweet and the response have been poor at best.
Tips to avoid a social media disaster
- Think before you tweet, would you say what you’re about to tweet in public or to a person’s face if you’re send a tweet @someone
- Social media isn’t anonymous and you should take responsibility for your tweets
- Keep personal and business account separate
- If you are abused block the account sending you the tweets and report it
- If your account is hacked delete all tweets not posted by yourself
- Have a contingency in place to respond to appropriate tweets
- Publish and apology to all who may have been effected
- If required provide social media training for staff
- All staff that tweet on behalf of a business should sign the companies code of conduct for social engagement
- Social media should be fun, whether your writing for a business or your personal account