Social Media Takeaways from the US Airways Pornographic Twitter Incident

“With great power comes great responsibility.” If ...

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

If that statement is good enough for Spider Man, it’s certainly good enough for social media managers.

Because mistakes on social media, especially professional pages, can happen very quickly, and be seen by thousands of followers in an instant. Take, for example, US Airways’ latest social media gaffe. The company’s official Twitter account tweeted a pornographic image involving a woman and a US Airways’ branded toy airplane. (I’m not going to link it, so use your imagination. Or don’t. Seriously. Don’t.) The tweet was in response to a customer who had complained about a delayed flight. The picture had been tweeted to US Airways by someone else, and the social media manager there accidentally attached it as a response to the customer.


Well, the picture has since been deleted, and according to the linked Forbes article above, US Airways has no plans to fire the employee.

Of course, there are some lessons property managers should take from this incident when dealing with their community’s social media pages.

Keep watch. This incident highlights that something inappropriate can get posted really easily. Make sure you or someone on your team is constantly checking what your residents (and employees) are posting about the community, and take down or flag for moderation anything that shouldn’t be there. That’s not to say you should take down bad reviews. Bad reviews happen and can be a learning tool. Also when only good things are said on a page, people get suspicious that they’re fake. 2+2=5, and all that.

Measure twice, cut once. Before you tweet or post on your community Facebook wall, pause, and look it over. Does it accurately represent your community’s brand? Also, since most people have their own accounts, and use smart phones for posting, it’s very easy to tweet out something meant for a personal account to a corporate one by mistake. It takes two seconds to check, but the headache from not checking will last considerably longer. (Especially if your pain reliever is in a child-proof container.)

Stick up for your team. The tweet by US Airways was a mistake, not someone looking to get revenge. So US Airways is not firing the person who made the mistake. Sure, it was a bad mistake. Stupid, even. But a mistake nonetheless. And mistakes happen to all of us, especially on social media, where everything happens so quickly. The important thing was when they realized their error, they fixed it. If someone on your team makes a genuine mistake on your community social media page, fix it, apologize to residents if necessary, and then move on. Your employees will feel much more comfortable working for you if they don’t think they’ll be fired the second they make a mistake. (Of course, take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes discipline or even job termination is necessary.)

There’s no bad publicity. Any press is good press, amiright? Admit it, you’re intrigued about this US Airways tweet, and you sort of want to look them up on Twitter now to see the conversation, don’t you? You totally do! So, if a mistake is made on your community social media page, clean it up and then use it to your advantage. Offer coupons to residents who said something about it on the page. Start a thread of humorous things that could go wrong at an apartment, and have residents try to top each other. Sincerely apologize and explain how you’re going to fix the error. Whatever tactic you take, address it head on instead of burying your head in the sand. Besides, people’s social media memories are so short—you might as well capitalize on the attention you’re getting to the page.

What are some other social media lessons property managers could learn from the US Airways Twitter incident? How have you addressed mistakes made on your community social media pages?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor

Image credit: Quka