Social media lesson learned from tweet about OK tornadoes

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Tragedy, any place, is met with sympathy, caring and giving. It can be expressed monetarily, physically and orally.

In today’s social media savvy world, it’s sometimes easy to make a mistake. And, since BBB made a mistake in northern California in a tweet about the Oklahoma  tornado disaster, it’s a lesson all businesses could learn.Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 10.33.48 AM

When the tornadoes were touching down, Twitter tweets were blasting out. As it passed, BBBs across the issued cautions about donating time and money for relief. Most got it right, but this tweet went out:

The discussion here isn’t so much the message –  “after Kansas tornadoes” – but what to do next.

Dr. Konya Weber, chair of Northwest Nazarene University’s Business College, said today’s social media is a business’ display case, and if a business doesn’t take responsibility for what it shows, it can lose trust.

“If you admit that you made a mistake, and correct it genuinely, and accept responsibility for it, people will forgive you,” she says.

As a professor of marketing, she points to companies that don’t correct, don’t take responsibility, or wait too long to correct the mistakes they make. Taking care of social media mistakes tends to be acceptable, because of speed and immediacy of the Internet.

“You don’t want to give people enough time to start talking about it,” she says. “People are always looking for something to talk about. If it’s of a serious nature you can take the post down immediately and correct it. Make it quickly, apologizing, and then, if possible, give them something to move on.”

By presenting more information on the subject, the poster has added to the conversation.

BBB serving the Snake River Region CEO Dale Dixon says correcting the error immediately shows honesty and transparency.

“When someone admits to a wrong doing, they’re telling the truth and showing integrity by taking responsibility for their mistake, all part of the standards set by BBB,” he says.

BBB encourages the social media discussion for small business owners. If you’re just starting, here are tips on tweeting.

Build your bio: Describing your business in a short, compelling way is one of the most important things you can do when starting out. Look at this as a sales pitch – use your motto, catch-phrase and any witty humor that will draw people in. Clarify who you are and what you offer, what differentiates you from competitors and any awards or claims to fame you have achieved.

Choose your @handle wisely: For the sake of clarity, the best handle for your account (if it isn’t taken) is your business name. If it is already in use, be creative! Adding numbers or symbols (underscores, dashes, hyphens, etc.) to your name makes your account still easy to find while distinguishing you from other users. You can also use a witty combination of words to describe users of your product of service if you really want to appeal to your audience’s sense of humor.

Create your content: Social media pages were not created as an advertising platform – they were originally meant as a place to entertain and gather. That means that while it’s tempting to make your page all about you, don’t. Post relative, interesting, share-worthy content for your users to re-post and you will easily build a larger following.

The internet never sleeps: Twitter is alive and breathing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so there really is no wrong time to be actively tweeting. However, knowing your audience and their tendencies becomes effective when choosing what the best times are to tweet to reach the largest number of users. In other words, sending out a tweet at 3 a.m. when your followers are sleeping becomes obsolete and ultimately, a waste of your time, money and efforts.


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