If you Delete that Tweet…Apology vs. Denial

In case studies, Social media on July 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

UPDATE:  Since this blog post was published, CNET has reported that the Chipotle hack below was a hoax set up by Chipotle to get people talking. While this blog post is evidence that it worked, It’s just another of the hundreds of reasons why Moe’s is better than Chipotle. However, I still stand by the point I make that apologizing and explaining is better than ignoring hacks, mishaps, or even self-induced mishaps.

Crisis Communications is its own discipline in social media and holds sway over managing organizational crises from a quick outreach, direct to customer, point of view. But we all know social can be the source of its own crisis as well.

The Mis-Tweets

Two events that happened in the past two days from large social accounts (@USOlympic 287,854 followers) & (@ChipotleTweets 228,863 followers). Neither of their tweets could be deemed crisis worthy, but they do raise an issue about deleting tweets.

The chatter about both events is proof enough that NOTHING really ever gets deleted.

USATodaySports grabbed this screen shot of the tweet, claiming that the olympic team loves Nickelback.

USATodaySports grabbed this screen shot of the tweet, claiming that the olympic team “loves Nickleback”

The mistake was deleted afterwards, and I didn’t catch the circumstances under which it was posted. However, an alternate course of action could have been to apologize and explain what happened. Whatever occurred, I’m of the opinion that clarity would have eased this issue, now shroud in mystery. Instead of guessing what happened, we would know from the source. Bonus points if it was cleared up in the tone/personality of the account. 

Sorry versus Hidden

The other adventure in social happened to Chipotle yesterday.

A string of strange tweets came from the @ChipotleTweets account yesterday, followed by some semblance of an explanation.

A string of strange tweets came from the @ChipotleTweets account yesterday, followed by some semblance of an explanation.

Mashable’s coverage states that it hasn’t become clear if the account was hacked or not and their apology tweet doesn’t shed a whole lot of light on the situation either. In my opinion though, it was better to address the situation and not leave it as the elephant in the room.

Situations such as the above happen and will continue to happen to all sorts of social accounts from your personal mishap to a large scale hack. It’s all in how you respond to them. In my opinion a clear explanation or even poking fun at what occurred (if it fits into your organization’s personality and goals of course) is the best approach.

Is it okay to delete (sometimes)?

Time to confess: I’ve deleted personal tweets in the past. Yesterday actually. If I post something too quickly or realize I somehow pinged the wrong twitter handle I will delete, correct a MINOR error such as quick typo or one letter off handle and resend. I think changes like this are okay even at an organizational level. It isn’t changing the meaning of the tweet and if it is caught instantly, the mistake may not reach too far before being corrected. The goal after all is still optimizable, valuable content, right?

What does everyone else think, is it okay to delete? Is it best to delete? Do the rules change at  a personal or organizational level?

Here’s a slideshow some students in my #NewhouseSM4 class put together last spring on Crisis Communications:


  1. […] Klout score. In the end, they did the right thing and quickly released a public apology (unlike Chipotle). The lesson? In a world of social media, a gaffe or two is likely inevitable. Do all you can to […]

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