Avoid "Getting Slizzerd": How to Empower Everyone to Tweet Without Accidental Tweets

Danny Schreiber
Danny Schreiber / Published November 5, 2013

Red Cross Tweet

We all feel like “getting slizzard” every once in a while, right? Well, maybe not. But in 2011, Red Cross promoted the pastime from its corporate Twitter account, which at the time had 270,000 followers.

The tweet, as you may know the story, was a mistake by an employee and though it was quickly deleted, a screenshot allowed for a flurry of media coverage from Mashable to CNN. Fortunately for the Red Cross, they were able to recover from the disaster and, believe it or not, raise money from it.

Other corporations whose team members have accidentally tweeted from the corporate account versus their personal account haven’t had as happy of endings. Stories such as Chrysler dropping an f-bomb, KitchenAid tweeting a joke about President Obama's dead grandma and HMV’s employee live-tweeting company layoffs are becoming all too familiar.

Shortly after the Red Cross tweet, marketing strategist and author Jay Baer wrote a blog post warning companies of such social media blunders. “As more and more companies ramp up their Twitter presence, the likelihood that something off-message will slip by the digital goalie goes up considerably,” he wrote.

So how do companies avoid what Bear calls "self-destructive tweets" while still maintaining collaboration in their social media efforts?

The Case for Group Tweeting

The safe route would be to just designate one individual to be in charge of tweeting on behalf of the team. Though simple and secure, the outcome isn't too sensational. This is the observation of Mitchell Cuevas, the UP Global marketing director who oversees social media for the organization's four brands: Startup Weekend, StartupDigest, Startup America and NEXT.

“The philosophy that I always operated under was the more people you can get involved in social media and storytelling of an organization, the better and more successful it’s going to be,” Mitchell said. He gained this approach after two years as a strategist for a social media agency. In this role, he found that clients who appointed social media representatives in each department were more successful than the ones who limited their voice to come from just one section of the business.

“It was a lot more genuine and a lot more real, and customers responded to the different voices,” Mitchell told Zapier in a recent interview. "(The companies) were able to hit on all the different customer segments based on who the author was that day."

Startup Weekend Team

Now in a position in which he manages eight Twitter accounts that reach a global audience of over 160,000 followers, Mitchell's found it more important than ever to share the social media responsibility with his 46 co-workers. Most are based in Seattle (above), but the UP Global team is indeed global, with employees across the U.S. and in Mexico and Europe.

“Because the way we are so distributed and volunteer run, it’s impossible for one person or even one group of people to capture all the stories that are going on,” Mitchell said. “I wanted a way to open that up, but in a way that was safe for me so that I could not be a bottleneck but a gatekeeper in the sense that I could still be responsible for the content going out but allow for everyone else to also have their voice.”

Here's how Mitchell does it.

5 Steps to Avoiding Corporate Social Media Slip-Ups

Mitchell's process revolves around an integration between two simple tools: form software FluidSurveys and social media app Buffer. A FluidSurveys form collects tweet suggestions from the team and Buffer queues the tweets, allowing the UP Global marketing team to approve, edit or delete them. Pretty simple, huh? And it’s effective, too, as Buffer offers auto-scheduling and analytics.

1. Create a One-Question Form with a 140-Character Limit

Not every form software is created equally, and for this job you’ll need to find one that limits the number of characters. Here are five popular form software options that offer this feature: FluidSurveys, Wufoo, JotForm, Survey Monkey and FormStack. For this demo, we're using Wufoo—check out the example form.


2. Connect Your Twitter Account to Buffer

If you’re on Twitter but not yet a Buffer user, I strongly encourage you to give it a try—it makes sharing great content a breeze. Buffer is a publishing and scheduling app for social media, allowing you to edit Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates before posting them. Moreover, you can auto-schedule and receive analytics of your updates.

For this demo, we’re sharing content via Twitter, but don’t let that stop you from using this same process to share elsewhere.

Connect Buffer

3. Automate Sending Form Submissions to Buffer

Now it’s time to add automation to this process, which can be accomplished in just minutes using our app integration platform—don’t worry if you can’t code, Zapier is made for non-developers.

To integrate your form software with Buffer, open your Dashboard and click “Create a Zap” (or click on a link above). Select your form software on the left side of the equation (the trigger) and choose “New Entry.” Then find Buffer on the right side of the equation (the action) and choose “Add to Buffer”.

Zapier Wufoo-Buffer

Click “Continue”, authorize the use of your two apps and then narrow down the process to make sure you include the correct form and Twitter account.

Here’s what my set up looks like:

FormNote: If you have multiple accounts with the same name in Buffer, such is the case for us at Zapier, make sure you select the correct profile—you may need to consult the profile ID to confirm.

Finally, make the Zap live.

4. Send Out the Link to Your Team

Here’s where you put the power of your company’s social media account in the hands of everyone on your team. Grab the URL of your form and paste it into an email along with an explanation of the how the new process works.

For example, here are the instructions Mitchell sent to the UP Global team along with links to eight forms (one for each Twitter account):

Note: You may use these links to submit tweets for consideration on behalf of others, but these links should not be made public. There is no need to ask the Marketing team if you can submit, this goes to a queue and the ones that aren’t approved won’t be posted. We’ll try to inform you of why, if your tweet is rejected.

To request a tweet from one of the accounts below, simply click the corresponding link and write your tweet in the text box. This will post the tweet to a moderated queue. We check the queue everyday, so if your tweet is approved it should generally take less than 24 hours for you to see it live.

5. Keep Tabs on Your Buffer Account

One way to make sure you stay on top of group Twitter submissions to Buffer is to build it into your daily routine, which is how it’s done at UP Global. Another way is to set up a Zap that notifies you when a new Buffer item is in the queue. This notification could come via email, text or as an update in your team chatroom and there are a dozen more possibilities.

Here's what the email looks like:

Buffer Notifications

Extend Group Tweeting Beyond Your Team

With successful implementation among the UP Global team, Mitchell has offered the group tweeting tool to a handful of the organization’s partners, as well.

“They understand that not all of them will be approved, but they don’t have to ask me, they can go on there,” Mitchell said. “It’s really a good way for them to get out content.”

How do you Group Tweet?

Now that you know the process behind group tweeting at UP Global (and now us, thanks to Mitchell!) we'd love to hear how you manage tweeting from your company's corporate Twitter account.

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