Social Media Snafoo – How to Handle the Fallout

Okay, you’ve made a huge little mistake, and you didn’t notice until a torch-wielding mob has descended upon your Twitter feed. What do you do? What can you do? Apologize? Ignore the issue? Clarify exactly what went wrong? There are many ways to approach a problem like this, but it’s quite evident that you should be as honest and open as possible. Let’s take a look at one of the most recent incidents with Digiorno Pizza and a trending hashtag, #WhyIStayed.

Let’s lay down a little background information: #WhyIStayed was used to share stories of domestic abuse in order to create a vocal support network for women in light of the domestic violence case involving Janay Rice and her husband, former NFL player Ray Rice. Digiorno, seeing the trending hashtag, decided to use it with the quip “You had pizza”. The reception was not pretty. The pizza company soon discovered their mistake and went into damage control immediately. In my opinion, they handled it exceptionally well. Digiorno openly admitted to the mistake, that the tweet was sent without first researching what the hashtag meant. They’ve even gone as far as responding to individual tweets with personalized messages and apologies, not a copied and pasted statement that looks like it was drafted by a lawyer. Yes, I believe it was an honest mistake (I’ve made a few myself before quickly deleting a tweet), but when you’re a large corporation, there’s only so much you can do. Media coverage have boldly stated that Digiorno’s tweet “backfired” as though the company did it on purpose. With the current fight for women’s rights and equal rights in America, that’s simply not the kind of publicity you want! At all! For the sake of the genuine issues at hand (women’s rights, reporting domestic violence, and speaking out against abuse), I say we let this one go. It’s not like the pulled Enetenmann’s and just pulled out of Twitter completely for several years hoping people would forget about #NotGuilty. Short answer: we didn’t. And remember the Union Street Guest House, a wedding venue that charged $500 for every bad review they received on Yelp? The moment owner Chris Wagoner said the so-called “policy” was a joke that was never removed, over 3000 reviews bombarded Yelp and dragged their 5-star rating down to just one star. If he was being honest, no one believed him (and neither do I). Sometimes a practice is so bad that not even the best attempts at damage control can fix the issue.

So what can we learn from this experience? First, do your research and don’t hashtag blindly! Just because a hashtag or topic is trending does not mean is a positive trend. It takes just a few minutes to find out what it’s about, and a few minutes will save you months of grief and possibly thousands of dollars in damage control.