Although the web is great for broadcasting our thoughts, social networking gaffes can damage organisational reputations in a instant.

After a customer care staff member posted an obscene tweet on its Twitter account, Vodafone was forced to apologise to the almost 9,000 followers of the service, which is normally used to share tips and answer queries. Although the offensive tweet was deleted, it had already been disseminated across the Internet. The tweeter was suspended as Vodafone entered damage limitation mode.

This incident highlights once again the danger of multiple representatives of an organisation broadcasting across a range of online platforms. A combination of process and technology will minimise this risk for concerned businesses.

Firstly process: the organisation must decide who publishes what, how and why. Set rules and limits and ensure they are understood. Like any aspect of business management, it should be someone’s job to monitor this. This does not have to be dictatorial or a massive undertaking. A simple ‘best practice’ checklist, clear task allocation and a discussion will suffice in many instances.

The agreed publication standards should be supported by technology. Do all contributors need to have publishing rights? Many blogs, CMS and other publishing platforms will distinguish between contributors, editors and publishers, so that an article or opinion gets a second view before publishing.

Even the best systems will not eliminate the risk of social media problems however, as recent YouTube sensations and this summary of US political online gaffes demonstrate. Caveat scriptor.


I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016