In case you haven’t heard bye now, KitchenAid sent out an offensive tweet involving President Obama’s recently deceased grandmother during the debates Wednesday night, which promoted them to quickly issue this apology:
Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand's opinion. #nbcpolitics
— KitchenAid (@KitchenAidUSA) October 4, 2012
Lately these twitter PR faux pas seem to be accuring with increasing frequency. Particuliarly in the form of a tweet that was clearly meant for someones personal account, but ended up on being sent from the company account. My personal favorite was when The Red Cross tweeted about getting #Slizzerd (additional here). Each year more and more companies are embracing and expanding their usage of social media, so I wouldn’t expect to see these slip-ups stop anytime soon. If anything they will probably become more frequent, so I would expect to see functionality introduced to try and prevent it.
Unfortunately I don’t see Twitter being the one to help companies curb these fuck ups – user experience is something, in my opinion, they don’t do well or seem to care much about. So a TweetDeck or a HootSuite or someone else who actually does care about improving the Twitter experience, should create a quasi “two-factor authentication” setting. When you send a tweet you’re shown a preview of the tweet and asks for confirmation before sending. This would give you one last chance to check for benign mistakes like typos and provide an additional opportunity to notice if you’re using your company’s account accidentally.
It’s a relatively simple feature that I think all companies would appreciate and take advantage of. I know I’ve personally made the mistake of sending a tweet from the ShopCube twitter, rather than my own. Fortunately it was nothing embarrassing or damaging, and I noticed immediately and quickly deleted it, likely before anyone noticed as we have so few followers. For larger brands with huge followings, there is no grace period; the second an inappropriate tweet is sent the damage is already done and depending on the nature of the message, can cause irreparable harm to your brand.