If you delete a tweet it never happened, right?
When tweeting, posting to Facebook or any other social network always know that everything you send will be seen by all and there’s nothing you can do about it. Social media is an amazing way for a brand to keep their customers and fans engaged, up to date on their latest offerings or just make sure that they stay interested in their products. You can make posts interactive by asking questions, adding pictures, videos and polls. Social media is the easiest way for customers to stay in touch with their brands and for brands to present a human face of their company. Social media engagement goes a long way to helping brands make life-long customers and to turn a potentially disgruntled shopper into a rewarded beaming advertisement for your customer service.
Yet there are times that brands can easily fail. There have been numerous reported cases of major brands adopting the wrong strategy, posting something offensive or not understanding their customers. Yet as someone who has worked in the social media field for some time now I can’t really be mad at these brands. It’s shocking to believe how incredibly new social media is. Only a decade ago networks such as Facebook or Twitter weren’t even invented yet and few brands understood the power of the Internet other than as a simple extension of their shop-front. Yet today if you’re not on Facebook or Twitter then your brand isn’t up to scratch. That’s the reality of the world that we live in today. It’s also why I often have a soft-spot for social media fails. These brands are often trying out something new, perfecting the craft of social media. If they try something and it fails then they simply have to look at what they did and say “this is where we went wrong and now we know what to do for next time”. Social media needs a significant learning curve for all brands as a company tries to understand it’s audience, current events and the context of what they’re writing about. Yet there’s one golden rule when it comes to social media: don’t try to hide it.
Hiding your mistakes is the worst thing that you can do as a brand. Customers can, and often do, forgive transgressions but companies have to admit to them. They have to not hide behind the tempting ‘delete’ button because hiding your mistakes is so much worse. I want to take an example from yesterday. On 30 September at 1:52pm the Free Gaza Movement, a pro-Palestinain non-Government Organisation, tweeted to their near 20,000 followers this video of notorious anti-Semite Eustace Mullins stating that Zionist Jews allied with the Nazis in the early 1920s in order to murder non-Zionist Jews to force them to accept the existence of the State of Israel. Mullins even claimed that the ‘Z’ in ‘NAZI’ was proof that there was a collaboration between the Zionists and the world’s most famous anti-Semitic political party (this is despite the fact that the Z comes from the German word ‘Nationalsozialsmus’ or National Socialism). This was just one of a number of offensive tweets that Jews might find disgusting from the Free Gaza Movement and it may have stayed hidden except for the fact that Avi Mayer, the social media expert for the Jewish Agency, saw the tweet and decided to expose the Free Gaza Movement.
After the post was viewed and retweeted by numerous people (myself included) the Free Gaza Movement realised that they had exposed themselves to legitimate claims of anti-Semitism. Whilst many anti-Israel organisations can legitimately claim that they are not anti-Semitic the Free Gaza Movement could no longer do so. Here they were with their tacit endorsement of a man who claimed that Jews were behind the Holocaust. As the presence of a brand on social media is the representative of the brand (i.e. the official Oreo account on Twitter is considered a representative of the Oreo cookie company and their tweets are considered to be endorsed by the company) then the Free Gaza Movement had just endorsed an infamous anti-Semite.
So the Free Gaza Movement did something rash, stupid and unfortunately common amongst brands that had been caught out in social media: they deleted the tweet like it had never happened. The head of their FGM Twitter account probably thought that if there were no link or evidence of the tweet then people would simply forget about it.
Not so. Thank to Google Cache.
Here is the tweet in all of its glory. Google Cache saves everything on the Internet. Nothing that has been posted can be unposted. I’m sorry to say that everything can be seen by everyone. Now it’s not exactly easy for the Free Gaza Movement to walk back from this. Their official representative on this social media network openly endorsed an anti-Semitic, holocaust denying racist and it does not matter how many times that the board of the Free Gaza Movement comes out against this ‘social media faux pas’ it will forever be dredged up again. Yet their biggest mistake (other than tweeting it in the first place) was to delete it and try to hide their actions. Brands are responsible for everything that they post and that means that when their social media team makes a mistake they have to come out with a mea culpa. You can’t just press delete and hope that everyone will forget. The Internet remembers everything and believe it or not: human beings are pretty clever too!