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Vodafone Gaffs On Twitter: What Happened?

Since I oversee or run large corporate social media accounts and the company I work for is responsible for dozens of Fortune 500 brands, stories like this make me cringe.

Earlier today, the very large, very well known UK mobile company Vodafone posted an incredibly inappropriate tweet on their official company Twitter account.  It said VodafoneUK  “is fed up of dirty homo’s and is going after beaver“.

Ummm….

Needless to say, this is not something that any company would want published on their behalf.  I don’t know if Vodafone runs their social programs through an agency or internally, but either way it’s obvious that there was a breakdown of protocol.  I suspect one of two probable scenarios that would lead to something like this.  First, it’s possible that it is a disgruntled employee that was either on their way out the door already or was ready to be fired, because certainly somebody is getting disciplined for this.  Second, and what I think is more likely, is that a single dashboard was being used (perhaps something like CoTweet) to update business and personal accounts.

They responded in what I think is the best possible way: acknowledging it and apologizing profusely all day long on their Twitter account.  Many companies would be tempted to delete the tweet and then pretend it never happened, refusing to reply to anybody that pointed it out.  I’m glad Vodafone has taken this approach, but I also hope they will tell us how the “severe breach of rules” happened so that all of us can learn from this mistake.

Community managers take note: be extremely careful with your updates, and don’t mix up your personal and corporate updates!

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By Matt Singley

Personal: husband to Alison, father to four amazing kids. I used to live a fast but enjoyable life in Los Angeles, now I have chickens on acreage in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a bit different. I'm an advocate for cycling as much as you can and eating as cleanly as you can afford. Professional: I'm the CEO of Singley + Mackie, a creative digital agency that serves well-known lifestyle and entertainment companies around the world. Clients include Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu, YP and others. If you want to find the more-professional me, go to http://singleymackie.com