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Red Cross Turns Twitter Mistake Into Social Media Success

Danielle D Ali, Social Media Coordinator
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My name is Danielle, and I have tweeted from the wrong account before.

When The American Red Cross sent out an errant status on Twitter last week, all of us social media folks could relate to that cringe-worthy moment. When you’re multitasking with a third-party client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, it’s easy to get your wires crossed. Can any of us say we’ve tweeted something as hilariously inappropriate and screen-grab worthy as the Red Cross, though?

Here’s where the Red Cross proved themselves not only smart about social media but brilliant when it comes to PR. Right away, they addressed the “oops” honestly and with a sense of humor:

Then, as soon as things were gaining momentum and Dogfish Head Brewery joined in on the fun, they wrote a blog post that was once again down-to-earth and funny while staying on The Red Cross message of being sympathetic to others and doing good.

The truth is, a well-respected, long-standing organization like the Red Cross honestly doesn’t need to spin into crisis mode over something like this. They could have deleted it, ignored it and it probably would have gone away after getting passed around online for a little while. And that’s what most would do. Instead, they took the opportunity to level with their audience, show that they can have a sense of humor and basically school us all on online PR. And now instead of laughing at their expense, we’re praising them for their savvy and using them as an example.

The lesson I learned here? Any brand can (and should) be down-to-earth. People have a much lower tolerance for insincerity online than in other media, and will tune out if you aren’t authentic. That can be hard to grasp for organizations who are used to a more corporate approach to PR, but the Red Cross has clearly mastered it. Even if you value maintaining a corporate tone, you should never be too buttoned up to admit your mistakes and laugh at yourself. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of “going social” in the first place.

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