Earlier this week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) became the latest in a long line of organizations to fall victim to an accidental mistweet from an official account. An intern with access to their official accounts sent a message that was actually intended for his personal Twitter profile. Unfortunately for CSIS, that message was directed at humanitarian group Amnesty International and contained the words “suck it.” Ouch.
CSIS issued a statement apologizing for the Tweet, but the damage had been done. This type of error, which has also befallen the likes of the American Red Cross and Chrysler, should act as a cautionary tale for organizations. A mistweet like this could have been easily avoided if the proper steps had been taken to protect these official accounts.
Here are some simple steps to ensure this doesn’t happen to your organization:
Don’t just hand over the keys to your interns
This is an oft-repeated tip that still somehow goes ignored by far too many organizations. Social media is not a task you can pass off to your intern. Just ask HMV.
Social media accounts should be centralized, consolidated into a single social media management system under the control of a senior employee. These tools bring all social channels–Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn–into one interface for easy monitoring and oversight.
This isn’t to say all employees, including interns, shouldn’t be allowed to contribute to official social media efforts. But further steps need to be taken to ensure that there is oversight from higher up the ladder.
Ensure employees are trained know social media etiquette
CSIS told the Washington Post that the intern was given access to accounts for monitoring purposes. Regardless of why the employee has access, he should have been trained on how to use the social networks and on social media etiquette. Doing so would not only have caused him to check and recheck his message before sending, it would likely have caused him to think twice about the message in general.
In an era where everyone is on social media, people are often perceived to represent the organizations they work for even on personal, public profiles. Had this intern successfully sent the “suck it” Tweet to his personal account, it still would have been in very bad form and have gone counter to social media etiquette. A quick Google search of his name by Amnesty International would likely have brought to light his ties with CSIS regardless, and his comments would still have been in very poor taste.
All this to say, train your employees to be smart about social media from personal and company accounts.
Have security measures in place to prevent mistweets
Social media management tools like Hootsuite allow for junior employees to be given limited permissions to draft and send messages. These messages will go into an approval queue and only senior management can sign off and send.
You can also add an extra level of prevention against rogue Tweets with the Hootsuite security slider. This feature asks “are you sure you want to send that Tweet?” which prompts the sender to reread their message before it goes public.
Together these features would have quickly nipped this CSIS issue in the bud.
How to respond when things go wrong
To their credit, the response by CSIS to this issue was swift and appropriate. They quickly deleted the Tweet in question but acknowledged it in an apology.
Our sincerest apologies to @Amnesty & our followers. Our last tweet was sent in error. We’re reviewing internal policies for social media.
— CSIS (@CSIS) August 19, 2014
More and more organizations are turning to crisis simulations in order to prepare their team in case of an error or security issue. This is a great means of ensuring that if something happens, appropriate action is taken in response.
CSIS has also made it known that they’re reviewing internal social media policies in light of the incident. Hopefully this prompts more organizations to do the same, before they learn the same type of lesson the hard way.
More Resources on Social Media Security:
[VIDEO] How HootSuite Protects Your Social Network Identity, Bloomberg West
How to Protect Your Brand Against Social Media Hackers, a HootSuite University Lecture Series