Why you’ve got to watch Twitter like a hawk

I’ll change the names in this blog post to protect the (not so) innocent. Actually I’ll just leave the names out so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings – and get myself into trouble.

I was recently looking to brush up on my skills set with a spot of training. I emailed a training provider with some questions about a series of webinars they were planning which looked interesting.  Two weeks later: no response. So I sent  another email. Still no reply.

Next I tried something different. I tweeted what had happened, mentioning the training provider’s Twitter account and adding a hashtag just for good measure.

Within half an hour a rival training provider had spotted the tweet and posted a link to its courses. And they added a cheeky comment at the end: “we won’t ignore you”.

But again, I received no immediate response from the original training provider I’d contacted.

Sat watching TV later that evening an email landed in my inbox: from the CEO of the original training provider. It couldn’t have been a more eloquent mea culpa. And as an apology I was offered the chance to try all the webinars for free!

So what does this tell us about pr and social media? Quite a lot I think.

The CEO was devastated that her organisation had fallen down on the customer service front and that my tweet hadn’t been picked up earlier. She rescued the situation with her personal and thoughtful email and I was largely placated. She’s asked me to provide feedback on the webinars, which I will – both in private and probably in the social media sphere too.

The fact is, any organisation worth its salt these days should be closely monitoring what’s being said about it on blogs, on Twitter and all the other places we use to sound off online. They’re a public communications channel as vital as any in the offline world. Reputations can be trashed or elevated in an instant (I don’t have a million Twitter followers, so little harm was probably done in this instance, though as the CEO pointed out from a customer service point of view it was poor).

Reaction time is a factor and it’s essential organisations act super fast to head off a crisis or to make the most of an opportunity.  It’s made pr more complicated that’s for sure. But whoever said life wasn’t meant to be complicated?

Mark Lupton

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