We don't always think through the full implications of what we say or how we act. This can be damaging in many spheres, but is particularly problematic in the social media realm. Often the public profile (or at least a strong and highly visible element thereof) of an entire organization is in the hands of a single individual. You don't even have to fall flat on your face — a minor misstep can blow up into a major embarrassment.
Take the seemingly innocuous tweet posted to the official McDonald's Twitter account on Thursday. Whoever McDonald's chief Twitter-er is passed along the details of a change to franchise policy announced that same day. Essentially, McDonald's will begin, very soon, using fresh — instead of frozen — beef to prepare its popular Quarter Pounder hamburgers. The change is expected to be fully implemented across all franchise stores by the middle of next year:
Today we've announced that by mid-2018, all Quarter Pounder burgers at the majority of our restaurants will be cooked with fresh beef. pic.twitter.com/Bdf99ALlxw— McDonald's (@McDonalds) March 30, 2017
All in a day's work, right? HQ announced something interesting, and the Chief Twitter Guy passed it along to the masses. Except that an alert wag at the helm of the official Wendy's Twitter account recognized a competitor's misstep and pounced:
.@McDonalds So you’ll still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL of your restaurants? Asking for a friend.— Wendy's (@Wendys) March 30, 2017
Whoopsie! That, my friends, is what the kiddies call a #SickBurn. It's also an amusing reminder to everyone whose thumb in on the company Twitter Button: Exercise caution when using dangerous equipment. Falling asleep at the switch can lead to the other guy's savvy dig getting 62,000+ retweets and more than 149,000 likes in a single day.
Social media management can be a minefield. Fortunately, there's a certification for that. Actually, there are several of them. Even certification, of course, is no guarantee of protection against lapses in judgment. It seems like a pretty safe bet, however, that any social media certification worth the paper it's printed on would include training and insight on how to recover from the occasional foot-in-mouth gaffe.
McDonald's is hardly the first ginormous business interest to step on the banana peel that Twitter often is, and certainly won't be the last. Certification can be an important tool in crafting a successful social media strategy for both corporate and nonprofit endeavors large and small. Don't overlook the potential benefits of a social media certification when sorting out your own approach.