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Slow Down. No One is Sitting Around Waiting for You to Tweet

On November 4, 2014 the Publicity Club of New England and PRSA Boston co-sponsored “Social Media Gone Rogue” at Boston University. Social media has become a mainstay of corporate communications programs with recommended outputs and turnkey responses. Despite trying to regulate this new and evolving form of communication with dedicated social media managers, content planning programs, listening dashboards, and airtight policies, “rogue” social media still happens.

The answer to managing unauthorized Twitter accounts, employees going off-message and corporate account blunders, may surprise you. It starts simply with slowing down and common sense. There is no complicated algorithm or secret sauce to fixing a problem as one panelist referenced. In fact, the roots of dealing with digital problems stem back to basic public relations 101: preparation, control the story and be honest.

Professor James Katz, Ph.D., of Boston University moderated. The panel consisted of Brian Heffron, EVP and Partner at Conover Tuttle Pace (CTP), Eric Korsh, SVP Social Content at Digitas and Crystal Duncan, Director, Client Strategy & Operations for IZEA. IZEA was a 2014 sponsor of the Publicity Club of New England Bell Ringers Awards.

classroom full of people

It was a packed room with much audience and social media engagement. Here are some important takeaways from the evening:

  • There are basic rules to social media. 1) Be truthful. 2) Never complain about your employer on social media. 3) Always check, check your post 4) Be aware of what channel you are publishing to – It’s not a good idea to have your client’s social media account on your personal phone because you may post a personal grievances or inappropriate photos. (Remember Hubspot’s pregnancy photos?)
  • When developing a social media plan, define who or what department is to post for the company and alert more than the communications team. Also tell other departments and in general, teach responsibility.
  • Know the channels that your company post to, who reads those sites and what they are posting.
  • There are a lot of problems with automatic posts. A company cannot be organic or have a natural discussion. Also, current events can affect a post making a company appear callous or uninformed.
  • Said Korsch, social media is going to be around for a while. Human resource departments should adapt their rules to recognize social media behavior. For example, most people have a social media account so provide some guidelines on what is acceptable to post. Corporate governance should follow common sense.
  • Heffron recommends creating a social media crisis plan and “Treat it like an insurance policy you hope you never have to cash in.” Plan ahead with your client and imagine more than one worst-case scenario. Address how each situation would be handled and the types of responses. It’s important to role-play and plan ahead. Who in the company is alerted first? Do you create a phone tree?
  • Erroneous postings to social media usually happen when people are rushed. As someone said, “Slow down, no one is sitting around waiting for you to tweet.”
  • If an error happens the important action is to be honest and acknowledge it. A company does not have to respond in five minutes. Is the world going to implode instantly? No, so think carefully through before you act and gather the facts. The principles to managing a crisis do not change because it’s social media.
  • Every scenario is different, but if you can, avoid taking an alienating stance when acknowledging an error. Is this an honest teaching moment for your followers? Can you agree with “Good tip. We will fix that in the future.”
  • Customer service is very big on social media. Everyone can post a review about a dry shampoo or share their poor experiences on JetBlue. This is an opportunity for companies to engage with their customers on various channels and respond instead of backing away and letting posts spin out of control. Companies can acknowledge a post and provide product coupons, a future discount, or more. Crystal Dunacan spoke about a dry shampoo that was receiving bad reviews online. The company learned that users were not applying the products correctly. To address the negative comments, the company created a YouTube campaign to change sentiment and educate users. This sparked many positive conversations.
  • Lastly, measuring “likes” on Facebook and Twitter is not the only way to quantify results. Create an attribution model that is a set of rules that determines how a campaign credits ecommerce transactions and conversions through sales, downloads and more referred by the user when he or she converted.

To see pictures of this event visit

See you at the next event! It’s the Holiday party on December 10 with PRSA Boston. Register to attend:

This post was contributed by Maryanne Keeney, Principal at Maryanne Keeney Public Relations (MKPR, LLC.)

Twitter: @Mayne