On Twitter, There Are No Takebacks

Lots of the Twitter advice out there says to “be yourself!” and “post in the moment!” Yes, on your social media you should be you -- absolutely share your personality, your sense of humor, and what inspires you. If something cool is happening in your store or office, Tweeting it live can be fun. Twitter is quick and snappy; the average lifespan of a Tweet is less than 20 minutes.

But when something goes wrong on Twitter, the embarrassment can hang around a lot longer. Until Twitter gets an "edit" button (and that's allegedly on the way!), if you make a spelling mistake you have to delete the Tweet and post again. And even though we can delete them, it can be very hard to recover from the damage that inappropriate or offensive Tweets can do to your brand.

Before you hit "send," are you really reviewing those posts? Consider if what your posting will help you achieve your ultimate goal, whether that's to gain relevant followers or sell more of your product.

These recent #fails demonstrate why.

Know your memes

Wendy’s Twitter account strives for “snarky, accessible, and cool.” A brand that’s really 🔥 with the #millennials, right? With the tagline “we like our tweets the same way we like our burgers; better than anyone expects from a fast food joint,” Wendy’s tweets have GIFs, clapbacks, and memes. However, playing with memes can be a dangerous game.

If you don’t know who Pepe the Frog is, he’s not Kermit’s cousin. This meme has become an alt-right symbol, although many seem to have missed that memo, including Wendy’s. The brand tweeted Pepe the Frog dressed as the Wendy’s mascot, and as you can imagine their cool Twitter snark accidentally turned into a hate speech endorsement, and they had to apologize. In short, make sure you know your memes before posting! Always Google first.

Tasteful tributes only, please

A celebrity’s death is perhaps not the best time to promote your brand. Cinnabon learned this the hard way. After tweeting out an image of Princess Leia made out of a cinnamon roll, people bombarded the account, calling the tribute tasteless. Maybe saying Princess Leia had the “best buns in the galaxy” was a bit much? Cinnabon has since the deleted the tweet and apologized.

Crocs faced similar backlash after tweeting an image of Crocs with Bowie’s famous flash logo on it. If you feel compelled to post a tribute after a death, just make sure you keep it tasteful (like these) and absent of brand promotion. And if you hesitate at all, go with your gut and don’t post it.

Maybe a Q&A isn’t the answer

Let’s say the public is outraged at your company over ethical issues. You’re not sure what to do, so you open up a Twitter Q&A to answer questions directly, expecting to have a calm chat to rehabilitate your image.

Flawed logic? SeaWorld certainly didn’t think so when it introduced the #AskSeaWorld campaign in response to Blackfish, a hugely popular documentary criticizing SeaWorld’s treatment of killer whales. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix.) The public used #AskSeaWorld as an opportunity to publicly ridicule the company about animal welfare issues. In response, SeaWorld responded to its “trolls” with ridiculous GIFs and called them out on being bullies, turning a not-great idea into the equivalent of a playground fight.

Think twice, Tweet once

Twitter is a valuable platform for many reasons, but one major rule will never change: check your spelling! Use a free tool like Tweetdeck to schedule your Tweets at least a few minutes ahead of time and make sure they're right.