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Twitter Faux Pas

Last night we accidentally tweeted from our @RedCross account something that was meant to come from a personal account.  Here’s what it looked like:

We realized our honest mistake (the Tweeter was not drunk) and deleted the above Tweet. We all know that it’s impossible to really delete a tweet like this, so we acknowledged our mistake:

In the meantime we found so many of you to be sympathetic and understanding.  While we’re a 130 year old humanitarian organization, we’re also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good.

You immediately embraced this mix-up and many of you have pledged donations to the Red Cross:

Huge thanks to Dogfish Head Brewery and the micro brew community for encouraging donations.

2 words of caution:

  1. You’ll want to space out giving a pint of blood and drinking a pint of beer for health reasons.
  2. Be careful of Hootsuite!

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  1. Not really sure its fair to call Hootsuite out for operating EXACTLY as its supposed to be programmed to do. Smacks of a wee bit of passive-aggressive finger pointing.

  2. Good point Greg. Didn’t mean to call them out specifically – lots of people have had this issue with all sorts of Twitter software. I meant for Tweeters to be careful!

  3. What a fantastic outcome and an example of an organization whose response to a small (in the grand scheme o’ things) gaffe is that of good humor and proactive measures. And I’m not just saying this bcs I can imagine myself making the same error. 🙂

  4. Masterfully handled. Kudos to you Red Cross and Dogfish! You can never anticipate how social media dialogue might unfold. This is a great example of why organizations should embrace it, rather than prohibit the technology.

  5. We’ve all sent errant tweets – it’s going to happen when you’ve got multiple accounts going on.

    The reaction is wonderful and I’m going to donate too. Thing is, we’re all human – we’re all people. You owned it, and also proved that things are changing. After all, the social web many times is kind of a reflection of reality. That might make some uncomfortable.. but it’s probably for the better.

  6. Totally going to donate a pint this weekend just for RC’s lighthearted response to this twoops. Will wait ’til next weekend to get slizzered.

  7. Every public information officer or public affairs officer – and so many others – should take a look at how this was handled. Outstanding corrective action and full transparency in explaining what occurred – an example all of us should keep in mind the next time we mis-tweet.

  8. Wendy,
    You do so well making the wonderful RedCross, also
    a terrific presence through new media,
    that we can’t imagine ANYONE not taking this in stride 🙂

    And props to @DogfishBeer for so getting it!
    Well done!

  9. When you have 2 twitter accounts linked to one app, this kind of stuff happens. I’ve done it before (@ someone on wrong account, post tweet meant for another, etc.), so I understand the frustration. I’m glad to see some good is coming from this mistake!

  10. Inspired me to donate! Cheers to the Redcross for all their hard work and Dogfish for their passion for what they do and compassion to turn it positive. This Faux Pas will be win win for everyone!


  11. […] with a message correcting what had happened early was sent out. You can see a small story on the Red Crosses Blog. Posted in Funny Things | Tags: Dogfish Head, Donation, News, Red Cross, […]

  12. Decided not to give blood this weekend after all. Going to give blood tonight, instead! Drexel University, TKE Fraternity in Philadelphia. Hooray O+ blood type! Ironically, I used to get kicked out of there when I was in High School and I would try to go there to party. Oh, the (fuzzy) memories.

  13. It’s good to see the Red Cross has such good taste in beer. This kind of thing should be encouraged. (In moderation and with quality craft brews, of course.) Please accept my donation to your worthy cause.

  14. Wendy,
    I can’t count how many times I have seen orgs send tweets from the wrong account. It’s bound to happen and you handled it very well. I’m very active on Twitter and I’ve caught myself entering a personal tweet on a work account while using a mobile app. To avoid this issue, I have a different app for each Twitter account I contribute to on my phone. My personal account app is on my home page and the two work accounts are in a folder a couple pages deep. It’s worked so far (fingers crossed).
    Keep up the good work!


  15. This is why I love my co-workers. It also shows that someone’s always on-call and ready. Not just 9-5’ers.


  16. The two things that are FABULOUS about this is 1. transparency 2. the quick-witted post-faux-tweet from the Red Cross. I actually think that handling it with a bit of humor was the perfect move. Thanks so much for sharing this. I know I’ve made this mistake (tweeting from wrong account) and sharing this makes organizations human.

  17. I’m not sure Greg is referencing but I don’t see anyone calling out HootSuite for working incorrectly. Even from her personal twitter account, Gloria Huang (the red cross employee who sent the tweet) said that it was her “inability to use hootsuite” that cause the rogue tweet. Cite: http://twitter.com/riaglo/status/37853906642014208

    As someone who donates to the Red Cross and often avoids alcohol I am NOT offended by the way this played out but even more impressed by the eloquent way the organization handled the situation. Social media is a powerful and dangerous tool and the Red Cross handled what could have been a terrible PR moment wonderfully. This has improved the way I perceive the organization.

    Cheers 😉

  18. After reading both Tweets, I had the most fun on Twitter than I have in a long time. The rogue Tweet was funny enough, but Red Cross’ response was just classic. I got the impression that everyone respected and loved this great organization even more. Not once did I see an ill harbored response. For me personally, It surely made me want to donate and support for turning my bad day into a great one. Thank you Red Cross for everything that you do. You are much respected and loved.

  19. I live my life in fear of this exact situation [hootsuite is both the bane and the delight of my existence]. Great job turning it into a positive!

  20. Great job on the clean up! You embraced a simple mistake, and made the best out of it. I would love to see how many new fans you have. Great job by Dog Fish Head too!

  21. Hear, hear! This makes me want to go straight out and donate blood, even though I always get sick when I donate blood.

    Also, fabulous taste in beer!

  22. You folks are handling this slip with such grace. Being a community manager, I totally understand how these things can happen and how it can feel in the midst of it all (been there). Kudos!

  23. This was one of the most eloquent ways I have seen a rogue tweet get handled. I give the utmost props to the Public Affairs and Social Media team for showing an excellent best practice for all organizations to take note of.

  24. I’m a community manager as well, and have had my own experience with the Twitter slip up. Kudos to RC for handling it with grace and humor.

  25. Thanks for taking all this so well! Very surprised when a friend sent me a link to this post and I found my name in it! I hope you raise a lot of funds/blood. Some of both will be coming from me.

  26. I feel your pain – I once tweeted about the fantastic dinner we were making on the Feeding America account. Next time, I will use your solution!

  27. I can honestly say that this is my favorite thing the Red Cross social media team has ever done (and you guys do a TON of witty, tongue-in-cheek, informative stuff).

    To take something that could have turned into a huge PR headache and make it into something humanizing and endearing (and even inspiring people to give blood or money)… that’s the stuff of PR legend.

    I’m so proud of the way you guys have handled this–three cheers to you!!!

  28. Nothing wrong with a enjoying a good beer or two now and then.

    As you said you’re only human beings. We don’t expect you to act like a bunch of old school marms. In fact, I find it refreshing to see real human beings handling your account, and real human beings with good taste in beer to boot.

    Also, liked the way you turned the incident around for the greater good. A win-win scenario IMO.

  29. Hello from HootSuite. We are enjoying seeing this unfold here in Vancouver.

    While Gloria likely just slipped a thumb on her mobile HootSuite and chose the wrong account, it has (remarkably) turned into something great and will likely end up being a solid fundraising day for Red Cross – with thanks to social media and beer (including our wee contribution).

    As an aside, we are happy to help @RedCross get set up with our Pro tool. Just ask and we’ll help ;-).

  30. […] It’s since been deleted, natch, but the best part? It resulted in a veritable flood of blood donations. Dogfish Head Brewery made a meme out of the hashtag #gettngslizzerd, asking people to donate. And donate they did: “After I drop off a pint of blood to the @RedCross, I’m replacing it with a pint of @dogfishbeer #gettngslizzerd,” tweeted @ereed812. […]

  31. With so many social sites to manage, stuff like this is bound to happen occasionally. You all did just fine handling it and it’s enough to make your team more careful. In fact, you’re probably better off now that it’s played out. I’d recommend considering a follow up post though about why it’s not a good idea to drink beer after donating blood! Could still use this rather humorous post to help get across a serious message.

  32. I learn from the Red Cross social media team every day. Not only are they technical experts (except Gloria’s recalcitrant thumb), but they also have wonderful relationships and immense grace and humor.

  33. In the aftermath of this, your staff is demonstrating a great handle of Twitter and social media PR. You could teach seminars to business idiots on this very topic and never need to solicit donations again.

  34. […] It’s since been deleted, natch, but the best part? It resulted in a veritable flood of blood donations. Dogfish Head Brewery made a meme out of the hashtag #gettngslizzerd, asking people to donate. And donate they did: “After I drop off a pint of blood to the @RedCross, I’m replacing it with a pint of @dogfishbeer #gettngslizzerd,” […]

  35. This was such a brilliant way to handle an errant tweet! I had to put it on my PR Twitter feed @theprlab as an example of how to do things right!

  36. Whether we like it or not, social media makes us real. Rather through personality or inadvertent actions, reality smacks us upside the head sometimes from a virtual space.

    This is the only kind of response you can have and still maintain your credibility. Anything else makes you inhuman and, in my mind, not very interesting to follow or engage online. Thanks for that!

  37. There are a lot of ways the Red Cross could have handled this, but it was done with humor and honesty. That’s what Twitter is all about. I’ve made more Twitter faux pas than I can count…and I’ve found that being straight about my mistakes is the best way to go (other than not making the mistake in the first place)

  38. Well played, Red Cross. Well played. Now where is your blasted donate button so we can get you some more people to watch the guy in the social media chair …

  39. Great story. One of the first blog posts that had me wanting to read ALL the comments.

    Nice to see HootSuite jump in….not offended….and offer to help. Kudos.

  40. I am so impressed with the Red Cross. Very well done. You had a bunch of ways to have handled this (think Super Bowl fiascoes of recent; maybe Groupon could take a lesson from you). And you took the high road. I’m so glad you’ve received support and praise from lots of folks. Well deserved. I bet Dogfish didn’t suffer too much from your post either!

  41. The Red Cross is a class operation with a sense of humor. Kudos to the fine folks there for poking fun at their fumble, and to Dogfish Head Brewery for lending a hand.

  42. […] Red Cross took their mistake a step further by writing a quick blog post that acknowledged their mistake. In it they recognized that while they are “a 130 year old humanitarian organization”, they are […]

  43. Kudos to the Red Cross! We’re all human and in the ever-changing world of social media, we’ve all have that oh s*(& moment! Isn’t that why we are all here?

  44. I’m so glad that the world and Red Cross has forgiven our Gloria, given to our mission and enjoyed a good laugh over this. Indeed, not a disaster. Remarkably human.

  45. This encompasses all the good and bad of social media as a means of communicating. The good, obviously, comes from the ability to reach tens of thousands of supporters and potential supporters quickly. The bad…ditto. While I wouldn’t classify this incident as a “crisis,” it certainly offers the potential. But the Red Cross acted wisely, quickly, and appropriately…a serious response laced with a smidge of humor and genuine embarrassment. And corrected the mistake quickly. Kudos for averting what could have developed into a mini-crisis and educating the public at the same time!

  46. Sounds a well handled situation.
    It may be unfair to suggest that Hootsuite was at fault, not the user, but I’ve more than once submitted feedback to Hootsuite that its dashboard needs to allow users to select against allowing multiple-tweets – another perfect opportunity for such a faux pas to occur

  47. Agreeing with Frank, Olivier, Beth.. everyone on the way you handled this. HAT TIP! It was an honest mistake, you didn’t hide from it. It was kinda funny, so you went with the humor. You listened and responded to the feedback, turning the mistake into more of a happy accident. And via your “careful of Hootsuite” warning, you’ve made a commitment to making sure mistakes like that won’t happen again. Again, just well played Red Cross, well played.

  48. […] Well, late on the evening of February 16th, I got a DM from Wendy saying, “The dreaded tweet! We took care of it.” The Red Cross managed to turn a PR disaster into a fundraising opportunity. All because they’ve built relationships with their network over the past few years, swift action, and knowing how to deal with mistakes. Here’s a play by play of the Twitter Faux Pas […]

  49. Strange bedfellows, Red Cross and Dogfish Head, but hey! Mistakes happen, and it seems to have been well received. The two should get together and exchange pints.


  50. Thanks for showing what transparency, authenticity looks like in social media. We hear about acknowledging mistakes but more companies need to see what that looks like in practice. Funny, you should track the ROI for the mistake by noting the number of Comments on this blog post, the number RT helping you correct, the surge in mentions of @redcross, and the related surge in blood donations and dogfish beer sold across the county during the same time. If you do that I can use that in all my social media presentation as an example of “when” not “if” something goes wrong in social media, the right action and the ROI that any company can really buy into.


  51. […] As I visit with folks about social media, however, I’m often asked about the risk of an employee tweeting inappropriate information or posting something on Facebook that’s crude. Randy Eilts with GlynnDevins shared the story of how the American Red Cross recently experienced that situation…and I found their response enlightening.  You can access information about it and how the American Red Cross responded by clicking here. […]

  52. Your organization represents a voice, a vision, and a message that has saved millions of lives. I think anyone “human” is willing to overlook that discrepancy. These things happen. Don’t beat yourself up over it. I can’t wait to give blood next week (Tuesday).

  53. […] Social media woops! –  This is a prime example of how to recover a social media mishap. Not only did the Red Cross acknowledge the mistake, but it spun the error to create a positive view of the group. This could have been a terrible moment for the professionalism of the Red Cross, but with their work, it helped them become more personable to its followers! […]

  54. So a mistake was made. Say “oops! – sorry” and move on. Good for you Red Cross for owning the blame and then moving on.
    You are right – we are human. As such, mistakes will be made.

  55. I LOVE how the Red Cross handled this situation. One of my recent blogs is based off of this posting and the Red Cross’ reaction to the rogue tweet, if you’d like to check it out here is the link! http://bit.ly/hHSnAz

  56. […] From where I’m sitting, they should have led with the apology.  The mistake was made, and any social media agency or professional worth anything knows that once it’s tweeted, the delete button can’t save you.   They could have pulled a Red Cross, and turned it into a positive PR opportunity. […]

  57. […] 3)      Finally, here’s my favorite story from the past week. An employee at the Red Cross, forgetting that she was still signed in to the Red Cross account, posted a personal message on Twitter about drinking Dogfish Head beer and #gettngslizzerd. Whoops! The tweet was taken down immediately but many people had already seen it. Rather than pretend it never happened, the Red Cross responded with surprising humanity and grace. As one commenter put it, “to take something that could have turned into a huge PR headache and make it something humanizing and endearing, that’s the stuff of PR legend.” Read more here: http://redcrosschat.org/2011/02/16/twitter-faux-pas/ […]

  58. I love this!

    I love how Red Cross handled the incident. They didn’t pretend it didn’t happen, instead, they showed a fun side.

    That’s social media smarts right there.

  59. […] From where I’m sitting, they should have led with the apology.  The mistake was made, and any social media agency or professional worth anything knows that once it’s tweeted, the delete button can’t save you.   They could have pulled a Red Cross, and turned it into a positive PR opportunity. […]

  60. […] familiar with the American Red Cross’s accidental “#gettngslizzerd” tweetand subsequently well-received response, you may be less familiar with the Chicago Red Cross’ use of Twitterduring the blizzard this […]

  61. […] the Duke Nukem games with the best suggestions winning a prize? The Red Cross managed it. When they accidentally sent out a personal tweet about employees getting drunk on ‘dogfish beer’ a…they embraced followers joking about giving blood donations to the Red Cross and replacing their […]

  62. Instead of hiding the mistake, Red Cross offers a transparent apology in a humorous tone via tweeter after its employee tweet. I think Red Cross did very well!! The existence of the social network need to communicate with each other. Therefore the “human” factor can’t be ignored. Red Cross take advantage of the impact of “human” factor, and use a sense of humor to reduce the negative impact. When people laugh it off, than they will forget it soon. Via this issue, I found the spread speed of the network is very terrible. To defuse the crisis need to race against time, confirm and react properly to the crisis as soon as possible.It is better to find ways to reduce the negative impact in a short time rather than without making any remedy or trying to hide.

  63. […] The American Red Cross fell victim to human error with an employee accidentally tweeted a personal tweet from the brand’s account. The brand recognized the problem with a humorous response that played off the original tweet’s content. The American Red Cross also talked about the mishap open and honestly, even addressing it on its official blog. […]

  64. […] It’s since been deleted, natch, but the best part? It resulted in a veritable flood of blood donations. Dogfish Head Brewery made a meme out of the hashtag #gettngslizzerd, asking people to donate. And donate they did: “After I drop off a pint of blood to the @RedCross, I’m replacing it with a pint of @dogfishbeer #gettngslizzerd,” tweeted @ereed812. […]

  65. I’ll be using this as an example of best practice when things go wrong in a social media training for a small NGO this week.

    Thanks for handling this so well AND being so open about the faux pax!

  66. […] First up, a couple social media updates.  First, the person responsible for the Red Cross’ twitter feed tweeted under that account, when he thought it was his personal account.  The result actually was a ton of people pledged to donate blood with some help from Dog Fish Beer.  Pretty cool to read about how a company dealt well with a faux pas. […]

  67. Awesome information about Twitter Faux Pas.
    Really appreciate the way you written.
    Good work..!!