Split- second meltdowns by celebrities on social media are causing PR nightmares
EVER since Ashton Kutcher ( pictured) successfully used Twitter as a public relations’ vehicle, celebrities have flocked to the site in order to reach out to their adoring public in 140 characters or less.
Using micro- blogging to their advantage, they attract new fans and connect with existing ones with microofferings of insight into their lives.
The real- time stream of Twitter has given a new sense of humanity to the stars we admire, but the unfiltered nature of social media means those users with a reputation to protect are only one click away from public relations’ disaster.
Once a hastily- typed tweet is published, there is no going back, resulting in some tweeters deleting their accounts.
With more than 600,000 followers, actor Alec Baldwin has been a star Twitter user, but he recently shut down his account due to a PR scuffle with American Airlines after he was kicked off a plane in Los Angeles for refusing to switch off his device before take- off.
‘‘ Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. # nowonderamericaairisbankrupt,’’ he tweeted.
The airline took to Facebook in defence, posting that Baldwin had been rude, unco- operative, slammed the lavatory door, alarming the crew and called them names, before being ejected.
And 24 hours later, Baldwin’s Twitter page @ Alecbaldwin was wiped clean.
Celebrity meltdowns online are an amusingly common occurrence.
‘‘ When you’re dealing with humans, mistakes are inevitable,’’ Twitter application client Hootsuite explains about its new ‘‘ Secure Profiles’’ feature, requiring double- confirmation of tweets before publishing. It was designed to prevent incidents such as when personal messages were broadcast over official brand accounts such as @ Chryslerautos, @ redcross and @ marcjacobsintl, causing damage to their reputations.
‘‘ Even the most experienced and fine- tuned social media teams can find themselves spending valuable time and resources to undo or deflect splitsecond mishaps.
‘‘ A team member who isn’t paying attention might accidentally select the wrong profile to publish their personal message to. Before you know it, you could have a Tweet expressing views . . . which may not be reflective of your brand.’’
The danger of our clever new tools is there is still a human driving the machine. And oh, how human we are.