News broke overnight that Chrysler has fired their agency New Media Strategies after they accidentally sent an offensive tweet from the @ChryslerAutos account. The story goes that the agency employee intended to post to his personal account but somehow published this on behalf of one of the world’s largest brands:
This sort of mistake is as staggeringly stupid as it is easy to make. That’s why I recommend that different publishing tools should be used for business and personal purposes. Yes, the life of a social media manager is simpler if they can do everything from one publishing tool like Seesmic or Tweetdeck, but the immense damage that a Chrysler-style slip-up can cause warrants the additional effort required to manage business and personal accounts in different ways.
Here at Microsoft we now use CoTweet Enterprise to manage many of our official social media accounts. Other tools are available and you should evaluate the choices before deciding what is best for your unique requirements.
Of course, the other most elementary rule of social media is that you shouldn’t post anything, professionally or personally, that you don’t want to be associated with you for the rest of eternity. There is no delete button on the web; once you’ve published something online, that message is there forever and will be inextricably linked to your personal brand and any brands you represent. When New Media Strategies’ clumsy ex-employee has finished licking their wounds, I hope they’ll use this painful experience to help others avoid a similar fate.
Further reading: Erik Qualman and his excellent Socialnomics site