It’s amazing how much impact 140 characters can have.
The latest example of their power became apparent during the first US presidential debate.
A few minutes after President Obama mentioned his late grandmother, a tweet was sent on the @KitchenAidUSA twitter feed that suggested Obama’s grandmother purposely died days before his presidency.
The tweet went viral. KitchenAid, clearly horrified and embarrassed, rushed to apologize. Cynthia Soledad, Senior Director of the KitchenAid Brand, tweeted immediately of the offensive post, “It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won’t be tweeting for us anymore.”
For hiring managers, it’s critical to make sure that candidates understand the organization’s social media policy. At The Bagg Group, we know that posting on social networks has become part of life for many job-seekers nowadays.
We have in-depth interviews with thousands of candidates every year to refer the best for full-time positions, contract work and temporary placements. And as interviewers, we are aware that we can never assume that candidates automatically know a company’s expectations or needs of its staff.
Many of today’s candidates grew up with the habit of posting their opinions on just about everything, from what they ate at lunch to what they overheard in a meeting. Those new to the workforce who frequently update their lives on Facebook and Twitter may simply not realize that organizations impose guidelines about how, when, and what employees can post about the organization.
In the PR Daily online magazine, public relations specialist Brian Adams advises organizations that when it comes to social media, “a little dose of paranoia is a good thing.”
Brian Adams offers organizations these tips:
Tightly control access to corporate twitter and other social network accounts: Only staff who have been trained to represent the company should post on these accounts.
An intern or newly hired employee may be a whiz at using social media, but that doesn’t mean they are masterful at crafting messages that represent the mission of your organization.
Also, anyone can slip up when they have access. If you have numerous accounts open at once, it can happen that you mistakenly think you’re posting on your private account when it’s actually the corporate one.
Never click ‘share’ as soon as you finish writing: Take a second, critical look at your post, even if it’s just a few minutes later. We’ve all said something regrettable in the heat of the moment, or voiced a tasteless joke. But what you dash off in a minute can live online for a very long time.
Before sending, ask yourself a few questions: Is this post is in the spirit of the organization’s mission? Is it possible that readers could misunderstand it?
Plan for the worst: Think ahead to what steps you’d take if somehow a tweet does go rogue. Since posts move at the speed of light, it’s important to be ready to implement damage control equally quickly.
Adams notes that in the case of KitchenAid, the tweet was quickly removed, but not before a fierce backlash against the brand. Cynthia Soledad reacted with numerous successive twitter posts. She tweeted an apology to the President and his family. And while tweeting that the author of the post would no longer be tweeting, she added, “That said, I take full responsibility for my team. Thank you for hearing me out.” She immediately contacted media outlets, offering to be interviewed on the incident.
At The Bagg Group, we tell our clients that the best strategy is prevention. And we know from our 40+ years of helping companies hire the best people that what works for employees is open communication. There’s no substitute for a conversation that clearly explains why policies and procedures are in place — it may take longer than the time it takes to write a tweet, but it’s worth it.