Can one tweet bring down the house?

I have one word for ya bud: decaf. Today an authorized admin on the @ChryslerAutos Twitter account let this one fly:

This wasn’t just a stain on Chrysler, it could be a stain on all of us who run corporate Twitter feeds and other social media platforms. Here’s a likely shakeout: clients and social media teams everywhere will have big sit downs about checks and balances. And every post from every responsible Tweeter could be subject to a corporate approval process that could slow down a great platform that’s supposed to be running at full speed. Mind you there are about 70 million tweets generated daily so good luck with that.

There are rumors that the Tweeter in question, an employee of New Media Strategies, meant to tweet it from his personal account. Well that Tweeter is now canned and I’d say unemployable. Maybe the guy with 2 million new Twitter followers would let him tweet it out. Not sure.

Here’s an easy way to avoid tweeting from the wrong account and it’s real simple (Tweedeck example- I’m sure Hoot and Seesmic have similar capabilities). Write your post. Schedule your post for 5 minutes in the future. It will then show up in your Scheduled Updates column. There you can proof it, have someone else on your team proof it, edit it, see which account it’s coming from and do a link check as well. Wouldn’t it suck if you uploaded that semi-nude of you to yfrog?

Live tweeting mobile? Bring your glasses and someone tell Apple to develop a spell checker that doesn’t turn “gravy” into “grab.” Wouldn’t that be nice???

I’ll take you back to Mark Twain who always wrote two letters when he was mad. Yeah he wrote one in the heat of the moment. But he always wrote one the next day. Not once in his infinite wisdom did he ever mail the first letter. So there’s that memo.

Your turn. What do you think will be the shakeout from the F-Bomb tweet? Will it hurt or help Chrysler? Did they do the right thing by firing the guy? How could this affect you? Have at it.



25 thoughts on “Can one tweet bring down the house?

  1. They shouldn’t have fired him. They could have spinned it. Everyone makes mistakes and they often lead to great things (silly putty, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Coke).

    1. Hi John D,

      We’re going to have to meet half way on this.

      They should have fired him. As someone who runs multiple media platforms and gets paid well to do so, any error (especially like this one) is inexcusable. His immaturity showed in his actions. Most consummate pros keep their hate off the internet But this guy didn’t.

      Not only did he get fired but they fired the entire firm. Tough noogies.

      I agree they should have spun it somehow. I don’t know how but a company as big as Chrysler could have taken the elevated awareness and done something with it. Last.

      Last. This wasn’t a science project where there was this miraculous outcome like Post-It Notes. This was just a plain mess up that probably set them back a great deal. Thanks.


  2. Mike –

    I work in PR in the auto industry and agree with you – a company’s brand reputation (especially a large one like Chrysler) is an important asset to be protected. I feel bad for the tweeter, but do think the agency and Chrysler had every right to go in a new direction. This was completely unacceptable.

    Laurie Halter

    1. Hi Laurie-

      As you see from my comments in this artice on, I would have fired the employee “faster than the airbags went off.”

      Many disagree and I respect their position, but that’s mine.

      We get paid for our skill, knowledge, precision and common sense. I also included a quick idea how they could have made good out of this mess.

      Thanks for stopping in. I appreciate it. Tweet safely.


  3. I totally agree about how the Red Cross handled their Twitter-trip vs. how Chrysler reacted. In the casual realm of the social-verse, this could easily have been turned into a funny-ha-ha moment for Chrysler. Now it’s another “example of how not to respond to a blip-on-the-radar-tweet.” Meanwhile the Red Cross gained fans, increased donations and generally built a heap of goodwill for not raining all heck down on the head of their stumble-fingered employee.

    1. HI Deb and thanks for stopping in-

      I agree that the Red Cross handled it well, but the two slip ups are a bit different to me.

      I did suggest how Chrysler could have flipped in in an article in today’s That would have been nice but the currently installed firm (soon to be replaced) didn’t think fast on their feet and work it to their advantage. I would have fired them just for being not so great at what they do.

      Incidentally Chrysler gained 500 fans in the short period after the F-Bomb. I see a non-profit and Chrysler as different. Maybe because I was one of the head writers for Chrysler corporate and handled their marketing for 3 years. To Chrysler, this is not the casual social-verse but a company fighting to recapture the hearts of America. This incident didn’t help.

      But I see your point and am really glad we spent this time together. Have a great weekend.


  4. Been there.
    Done that.
    Deleted it before anyone noticed, though.
    I agree with Rob that Chrysler should’ve tried to spin this to their advantage. They could’ve had a lot of fun and even created an ad campaign from it. They only time they get this much press is when a car is recalled. “The best cars to drive in the worst traffic”. Instead, they have now furthered their image of being out of touch and late to the party.

    1. Hi Chris-

      I’m down the middle with you. Could you imagine if you barked out an F-Bomb from the SS account? Don’t know if you could have deleted that fast enough and I’d never wish that on you or anyone there.

      I agree they should have used it to their advantage as quickly as they could. The people at just interviewed me and I had a suggestion on that. The story will be out tomorrow. Also Chrysler has terminated New Media Strategies as of this afternoon. Hopefully they will hire a group who will be more “social” than their existing firm should have been. If I were Chrysler, I would have looked for a new firm with or without the F-Bomb tweet.

      Thanks my friend.


  5. The guy made a mistake and deserves a second chance but it doesn’t mean he deserves a chance at the same company. These mistakes are easier to avoid when you make it a habit not to curse in the online world. You never know who might be reading it. I don’t like to type up profanity.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I’m with ya. No room for cursing or foul attitude. Social media is a horrible place for an antisocial person to be.

      Also, I don’t think the company deserves a second chance. While I found that they have an ethics code in place, their work is underwhelming. I just took a quick peek and just one of Mercedes Benz’ Twitter feeds has 8 times as many followers. Oh well, next!


  6. Everyone deserves a second chance. So what? This person screwed up and posted something he meant to post on his personal account on Corporate account. Things like this are bound to happen. I make this mistake all the time. I Usually catch it before a lot of people notice. But mistakes do happen from time to time.

    1. I’ve posted to the wrong accounts as well. But isn’t there a difference between posting lunch plans and a rant bash about the very town and the category you are promoting? Yes, mistakes happen. But this one was the perfect storm of mistakes.

      1) A company that is digging out of a major financial hole
      2) A company that is paying a ton of money to revamp their image and
      3) A poster that has the wrong temperament for that type of work.

      And you know I’m not squeamish. But I can see your POV and thanks much.


  7. I conduct so much organizing, socializing and business in DM that I’m sure I’ve tweeted one out every once in a while, especially when I was new to twitter and trying out different iphone platforms. Some are so bad you can’t tell WHAT you are doing. I settled on echofon and seesmic. I think one of the nicest things you can do is TELL somebody privately when you think they tweeted a DM. After a while, when you know somebody’s tweeting style, it’s obvious when it’s a mistake. Nobody wants their business or personal stuff that was meant to be private out there.
    And… I know you didn’t really mean that kind of scheduling. You GET social media, Mike. YOU DA MAN! : )

  8. It could have been much worse. It was just a rant to which we can all relate, and it didn’t call anybody out personally.

    I understand Chrysler’s and New Media Strategies’ discomfort; dropping an F-bomb on the wrong audience is a serious faux pas. Maybe Chrysler can find a way to use it in a campaign about their safety features and road rage.

    As you said, the lesson is to pause before clicking send.

    1. Hi Nathan-

      I’m in Miami and dropping an F-Bomb in traffic can get you killed. So I just chill. And I don’t do F-Bombs that can be read worldwide with the click of a button.

      Thanks for stopping in!


  9. This is a tough one. I agree that corporate tweeters need to be extra careful, but I don’t think this guy should be fired for one gaffe. As you said, 500 new followers in one day, and it just might make Chrysler more popular.

    I understand the need to be professional, but honestly, if companies had interesting characters representing the brand in social media, maybe even comedic ones, instead of the usual dry boring bla bla bla, they might attract more followers and more people might relate.

    But I get it, of course. It’s very hard to have a corporate voice sound personal. This is one reason why I can’t tweet for someone else if I have to control my speech (even without cursing). Too much control of twitter and too much editing will just defeat the purpose of the spontaneity of the medium.

    The best corporate tweet account will find a good balance between the personal and spontaneous and the professional.

    1. Hi Maria-

      Glad you chimed in on this. I’m going to pile in on your comment. Gaffe or no gaffe, I don’t think New Media Strategies is helping Chrysler.

      Chrysler i selling about 3 million units annually. To have 7,500 or 8,000 followers is light in my opinion. It’s our job as marketers and communicators to make the brands we represent “personal, spontaneous and still stay professional.” Those are your wise words well taken.


  10. This post made me laugh.
    I go back and forth from several accounts on twitter every day.
    I’ve never had this posting mess-up problem because– guess what?! — I don’t swear on the Twitter. Not on my personal accounts, not on the accounts I represent.
    Sure, sometimes I swear in DM, sometimes even like a truckdriver. I’m a redhead, after all, and everybody has a bad day. Sounds like something I would have yelled in my car.
    I really don’t think the guy should have been fired. He’s human.
    Twitter is about being human.
    I also don’t believe in scheduling tweets.
    Because customers know when you’re faking it.
    I’d find a way to make this gaffe work in my favor if I was Chrysler.

    1. This whole thing made me laugh too!

      I hope you don’t think I meant to schedule tweets- I just meant schedule them 5 minutes in advance so you can proof them and no mess ups happen. Even an innocuously clean tweet from the wrong account doesn’t represent the tweeter or the company well. Your advice is well taken because you do the Twitter and social media thing textbook great.

      P.S. DM scares me. Have you ever tweeted out a DM? I have. ONCE.


  11. Hey Rob-

    Thanks for the link- great post.

    I’m kinda in the middle here. Cursing or sounding off on your personal feed is your call. But when a big corporation is paying you the big bucks to manage their feed, it’s a major mess up.

    I knew about the American Red Cross-Gate but didn’t want to ramble. At last check, Chrysler gained 500 followers today…I’m just waiting for the “it was a PR stunt” commenters. Thanks Rob and cheers!


  12. Hey Mike.

    Same shit happened with a young lady from The American Red Cross. Her profile even says she’s now “Infamous for #gettngslizzerd”. They handled her seemingly getting drunk comment (which apparently was just excitement) very well, turning it into new donors.

    The Chrysler thing is a little different though. However, it is really just a common statement. I bet you, me, kodner and ikathy with dozens of others in our group say the same exact thing daily. Every person in this country curses out someone on the road every single day, and I’m sure Detroit is no different. If you don’t, don’t worry, I got a handful of you covered to keep up the average.

    Chrysler needs to stop being such a pussy and back up their tweeter. He does need to shut the fuck up and be a little more professional, but to fire him is so hypocritical. I guarantee the chauffeur of the Chrysler CEO cut some texting bitch off this morning in their Lincoln Town Car and said as much.

    I suggest the following reading from @julien for de-pussification:



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