Hours after frenzied blue and green clad Seahawks fans poured out of Qwest Field on Monday, the buzz continued. Monday Night Football’s replacement-ref debacle, perhaps the worst officiating call of all-time, led to the Seahawks’ dramatic game-winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers. The result stirred up commotion across all social media platforms from fans and players alike (even President Barack Obama chimed in).
A myriad of NFL pros aired their grievances with the league, replacement referees and, of course, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It was Green Bay guard T.J. Lang, however, who laid it out the thickest with a flurry of tweets shortly after the “touchception.”
Yahoo! Sports reported that, according to Twitsprout blog, Lang’s first tweet ranked as the third most retweeted tweet of all-time just 10 hours later. By Wednesday morning, it had 95,000 retweets.
The controversial (disastrous) call was the talk of the nation the following day. Good Morning America led Tuesday morning’s program with it. The ladies on The View even sounded off on the subject.
Many of Lang’s NFL brethren publically agreed with his sentiment, but none had the mettle to take to social media the way he did. Lang knew the second he clicked tweet that he’d be hearing from the league. (Stunningly, he wasn’t fined by the commish as expected. And by Thursday, the league and its real officials reached an agreement to end the lockout).
The NFL runs a tight ship. Like most professional sports leagues, there are social media policies in place. Players not only represent themselves, but the league as whole.
Whether you have 500,000 followers or 100, Twitter—so widespread and instantaneous—can be a dangerous place for individuals and businesses alike.
To tweet or not to tweet
Lang could afford the disparaging comments. Although he risked being fined, his reputation may have strengthened due to the fact (save for those rowdy Seahawks fans and the NFL) everyone agreed the call was terribly botched.
But the tweet-gone-viral got me thinking about how Twitter slip-ups can be rather costly. Social media can prove to be extensively detrimental in the business world. Every tweet reflects an individual or a business’ brand. Twitter is all about promoting a brand, building credibility and engaging with fans and potential customers.
One senseless tweet could tarnish that. Lang’s daring rant still doesn’t rank as high as these Twitter screw-ups.
Oldies but goodies
Kenneth Cole, a clothing and accessories brand, tweeted the following, leading to plenty of backlash.
One livid tweeter launched a fake Twitter account labeled @KennethColePR, sending out a few sarcastic tweets. “Iran is enriching uranium. Our shoes will enrich your suits,” one post reportedly said. Similarly, other Twitter users ridiculed the fashion mogul.
Cole himself sent out the initial maddening tweet and later apologized for the insensitive comments on his Facebook page. But c’mon, man. Pretty silly for Mr. Cole to think this was anything but inappropriate. While his clothing line is still fashionable, this tweet was pretty tasteless.
A Chrysler media relations employee with access to the Chrysler Twitter account unthinkingly published this gem.
Scott Bartosiewicz was terminated after dropping the F-bomb on thousands of Chrysler’s Twitter followers. At least it was an industry-related tweet, right?
The American Red Cross’ Twitter handle had a similar occurrence when an employee accidentally tweeted from the company account. The tweet had nothing to do with humanitarianism and everything to do with getting hammered (or slizzerd?).
The Red Cross, though, turned this slight PR nightmare into a success story. Not only did the Red Cross bring its Twitter blunder to light, but it delivered a wildly popular, comical response.
Furthermore, the company posted this on its blog: “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.”
The 2012 London Games were aptly dubbed the first Twitter Olympics. Coincidentally the first Olympian sent packing due to poor behavior was Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou for her racially charged tweet.
You’d think an athlete already on the grandest stage of sports (she was a favorite to medal, too) would have been more mindful of what she sending out to the Twitterverse. She later apologized, but the damage was done.
And possibly my favorite Twitter fail, thumbed by none other than comedian and Problem Child principal, Gilbert Gottfried.
Gottfried was fired as the voice of the infamous Aflac duck following a barrage of tweets poking fun at the tsunami in March 2011. What a MORON!
Don’t press send!
When building a brand or fostering stronger relationships, Twitter is an unparalleled tool. But when Twitter is misused or in the wrong hands, it can be damaging to say the least.
Green Bay’s Lang generated 90,000 new followers just days after the NFL Twitter explosion and, from the looks of it, put an exclamation point on an embarrassing referee lockout. But the aforementioned examples better elucidate how Twitter can become one’s worst enemy.
The web is littered with glaring examples of Twitter fails. Like Anna Washenko wrote, most of these slip-ups are due to major lapses in common sense. Not too long ago I had access to three twitter handles, two of them work related. Sending out a tweet to the wrong account or multiple accounts was entirely plausible (never happened, of course).
Publically tweeting what was intended to be a private direct message, however, is an inexcusable offense.
Instead of getting into a bit of trouble (or fired), utilize Twitter the way it was envisioned. Deliver useful information, ignite a worthwhile discussion, and build a following. Interact with new followers and seek valuable material as well. Needless to say, always be mindful of what you’re tweeting and the repercussions at stake.
With that said, here are some words of wisdom from former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards: Don’t press send!