Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies

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Twitter Truth #1 is recognizing that it’s not about you. Twitter Truth #2 is remembering to shut up occasionally. These are both fairly simple things to master, you just need to get on it. Twitter Truth #3 is a little trickier.

Today, I want to talk about the debatable role marketers often play as the wranglers of the whackos. You know who your whackos are. Yes, they probably outrank you by a factor of six. Sadly, it’s still your job to keep them away from Twitter. And maybe also from neoprene, on ramps and nuns.

There are only so many squishy toys and mission statements you can throw in there to distract them, and sooner or later, you need to intervene. Still not with me? Here’s what happens when a few get loose.

If you have a CEO like RyanAir’s Michael O’Leary, I would think that you should probably not even mention the existence of Twitter, let alone set up a live Q&A with the crazy dude. Nobody asked me, so away they went. Most folks commented on the CEO’s inability with hashtags and Benny Hill-esque view of women. But I think this is probably the craziest bit of the whole thing (save for the fact that he did the chat dressed as a leprechaun).

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image ryan air twitter

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Guido Barilla’s Twitter fail didn’t really start out as a Twitter fail; it started with an unfortunate invitation to anyone who didn’t like his anti-gay remarks on the radio to switch brands. So they did, and tweeted about it as they went. Then the company apologized on Twitter.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image barilla us apology gay

Then Mr. Barilla apologized (sort of) on Twitter. Then he apologized on Facebook. Then he taped an apology video. And yet the Twitter fail from this crazy CEO looked more like a Twitter win for his competition

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image bertolli twitter rocks

Moving on from people who shouldn’t be let near your Twitter feed, let’s consider what happens when you enrage the people who actually manage your Twitter account. A good way to do that is to fire them all at once without first changing the credentials to access your account. The stream is a priceless and very sad account by people being kicked to the curb by a brand they love.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image screen shot 2013 01 31hmv

Here is a link to a more readable image of the stream, and here is my favourite post of the bunch.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image hmv how to shut down twitter

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the person who posted this at Nokia New Zealand was not rocking the employee engagement scores:

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image nokia fuck you 01 2013

Crazies aren’t your only problem; sometimes there are stupid people with access to your Twitter feed. There are numerous examples of employees and agencies who forget which account they are using when they share something. Chryslerand the American Red Cross are famous examples.

In the name of full disclosure, I recently vented my unhappiness with a certain regional transit provider using my company Twitter handle. Made worse when I figured out that the Blackberry Twitter App doesn’t let you delete. Stupid people everywhere.

Like the genius who thought repurposing a disturbing 9/11 image to sell magazines was a good idea.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image esquire falling

Made worse by the grudging, minimizing apology.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image esquire apology

And let’s not forget the dumbest things of all. Automated interactions with customers. American Airlines sends this cheerful response to a critic.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image american airlines autoreply e1399827499899

While Bank of America offers to review an Occupy protester’s account.

Twitter Truth #3: You Can’t Keep Out the Crazies image bank of am autoreply e1399827627609

Folks, if you want to have automated conversations with your customers, just send them a fortune cookie and get it over with.

What lessons are to be taken from our angry, crazy and stupid Tweeters? What can marketers do to keep these people from turning the brand into a hate sponge or a joke?

There is the obvious training and social media policy stuff, but let’s face it, a truly determined crazy, angry or stupid person will find their way to Twitter whether you want them to or not.

So I think our time is best invested in the Wet Clean Up at the other end.

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