Nonprofit Social Media Faux Pas: A Lucky Mistake

An accidental tweet came across the American Red Cross’ Twitter stream this week, giving the nonprofit reason to feel dizzy.

Social media productivity tools such as HootSuite, which allow users to easily manage several Twitter accounts on the same dashboard, come with the risk of updating the wrong account. The person tweeting for the American Red Cross had obviously crossed his or her Twitter profiles. But with any mistake (whether tweeting under the influence or not) comes a lesson for the rest of us: If you are tweeting on behalf of an organization, double-check which account you are logged into before you tweet.

The American Red Cross has handled this error incredibly well. So well, in fact, that it should be a model for others to follow. Here is what they did right:

  • Moved quickly
  • Removed the tweet
  • Acknowledged that nothing is ever *really* removed from the internet
  • Admitted the error ON TWITTER with a witty follow-up
  • Took further responsibility for the error in a blog post that was honest, authentic and appreciative of folks who recognized it as a simple mix-up
  • Laughed at themselves

The response? Most embraced the American Red Cross, including Dogfish Head Beer, which encouraged followers to donate to the nonprofit and re-tweet the call-to-action. The smart and immediate response by the American Red Cross mitigated the risks of the embarrassing misstep, and made the organization seem authentic and transparent in the eyes of its followers.

Not all social media faux pas are as innocent as this one, but it is a terrific example of turning a potential negative into a positive through active social media participation.

- Mike Hollywood, Director of New Media, @mikehollywood


Back to Insights