Meow: AP accidentally links video of a cat dressed as a pirate in unrelated news story

You know how the idea that of double checking everything is a good one?  Yeah.  About that.

Last week, the Associated Press’s Politics Twitter Account, @AP_Politics, tried to link to a story about the hacking of the personal Email of the director of the CIA.  They sent out this tweet:

Now, that, as you can tell, is the corrected version.  What happened in the original version?  Well, it linked to this:

Too bad that the AP didn’t take the opportunity to show some humor – this was a pretty funny gaffe and would have been a good chance to actually show that yes, the Associated Press is human too.  Regardless, this goes to show that you always need to double check the links that you tweet out – accidental copying and pasting have hurt many in the past.


Kal Penn

Russian Ambassadors tweets picture of laughing terrorist…from Harold & Kumar!?!?!?

In today’s blog entry, you will see why it is so, so important that you have a full grasp on context when using the Internet.

The Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom is Alexander Yakovenko.  On October 21st, he sent out this tweet:

Yeah, that picture?  Not a terrorist.  It’s actually actor Kal Penn in the stoner movie Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.  I bet Penn never thought that picture would be used in foreign policy!

Penn noticed the tweet, and responded as such:

Here’s where Yakovenko should probably have shut up for his own good.  He did, but then the official Russian Embassy account tweeted:

And Penn got in the last word:

Also worth noting: Penn took a break from acting to work at the White House, where he was an Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.  Yes, that’s right, the bearded “terrorist” that the Russian Ambassador tweeted was a former employee of the United States government.

I’m reminded by this quote from Bob Ueker in Major League

This disaster shows a couple of things.  First, this is why it’s important to be at least vaguely plugged into pop culture.  I’ve never seen that movie, but I probably could have recognized that the picture is way, way too staged looking – and thus, was probably from a movie or television show.  Odds are that you would have seen the same thing!

Second, always know the source of any image that you cite.  This disaster would have been prevented if the Ambassador had simply taken the extra moment to look at the source of his image.  Make sure that you always do the same so that you don’t accidentally use an image or link which is not what you thought it was!

Tweets and Consequences

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Chuck Pagano

Twitter Q&A with NFL Coach Chuck Pagano goes poorly after fake punt disaster

Why, oh why, will no one STOP DOING THIS??

Okay, first, the background.  Chuck Pagano is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts.  On October 18, Pagano and the Colts were playing a tight game against the New England Patriots.  Down by only six and with the ball late in the 3rd quarter, the Colts were faced with a 4th & 3.  They elected to punt, and then, this happened:

You don’t have to be a football fan to know that was a complete disaster.  The trick play went catastrophically wrong and the Patriots scored on the next possession, ultimately winning the game.  Pagano took responsibility for the play and was widely ridiculed.

Anyway, that brings us to last week, when, during a radio apperance, Pagano’s weekly radio show sent out this tweet:

Fans, of course, were too happy to oblige, and the questions were brutal and hilarious:

In all fairness, this is something which Pagano does on a weekly basis.  The radio show is obviously a recurring program, and the account has, on previous occasions, solicited feedback:

However, the account has only sent out four tweets since September 22 – and the last one previous to that was in Janurary.  In other words, no one would have noticed if the account hadn’t tweeted, which begs the question: What the heck were they thinking!??!

So, all together now: In the aftermath of a controversy on PR disaster, don’t hold a Q&A session like this…and certainly not when you just know that the questions are only going to serve to magnify some major, previous error.


Twitter polls are here: How can you use them?

Twitter, it appears, is rolling out polls to all of its users:

If you want the public’s opinion on anything — what to name your dog, who will win tonight’s game, which election issue people care most about — there’s no better place to get answers than on Twitter. For poll creators, it’s a new way to engage with Twitter’s massive audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s a very easy way to make your voice heard.

This is cool. It’s a nice new feature that appears to be ready for use with all Twitter users.  Here are some of the specifics about the feature:

  • You can only give people the option to respond with two pre-set answers.  Only two answers, and no open-ended answers, which is different than Facebook’s polling function.
  • Polls will be live for 24 hours.
  • How you vote will not be shared publicly.

I have a few questions about the feature:

  • Are answers publicly accessible while a poll is ongoing?  After the poll is completed?
  • Can the poll be retweeted, like a standard tweet?
  • Do you have the option to retweet your answer, if you so choose?

The first thing I thought of in terms of how these polls can be used would be the set-up for a fail: Let’s say you put out a poll, asking a question.  You then don’t like the answer.  Opps.  I can see that backfiring very, very quickly.

My initial thoughts, based on how this is likely set up, is this: Don’t use the polling function to get someone’s opinion on a controversial issue, unless you are actually prepared to hear the answer…even if it’s one you don’t like.  If you want to get people’s opinions on an issue, don’t be surprised for if and when you do get them, and they don’t align with your own views.  Instead, use the poll to solicit general feedback, build engagement, and find out what issues are important to your constituents.

I say again: Never ask a question, unless you are prepared for the answer.

donald trump

Donald Trump uses Twitter to call Iowa voters brain-dead

Donald Trump isn’t shy, and he’s had a grand old time insulting pretty much every minority group under the sun.  In a pathetic commentary about humanity, this tactic has only caused his poll numbers to rise.  However, he’s yet to insult an entire state whose votes he needs, and the other day on Twitter, that is exactly what happened, when Trump retweeted the following:

Trump Iowa Tweet

By way of explanation: The latest polls have Dr. Ben Carson leading in Iowa.  So, Donald Trump retweeted this tweet, which pretty much implies that Iowa voters have brain damage.

Regardless, that tweet was deleted and replaced with this:

Gotta love the old “young intern” excuse – after all, Trump’s campaign has used it before.  It’s also a load of crap – there is no way that the current Republican front-runner allows an intern to have control over the Twitter account.  And, if they do, everyone involved should be fired.  This isn’t some campaign for Borough Council. Mr. Trump is currently the front runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  No one should have access to the Twitter account except professionals.

That being said, Trump’s campaign strategy is, of course, to be as controversial and provocative as possible.  Did his campaign actually decide that there is a limit to how insulting he can be, and that insulting voters directly is a bad call?

One additional note: This isn’t the first time a campaign has gotten into hot water for insulting Iowa or the Iowa caucuses.  A then-staffer for Wisconsin Governor Walker’s campaign, Liz Mair, took to Twitter to attack the status of the Iowa caucuses, and was promptly forced to resign.

At the rate we are going, I may have a new book out shortly, dedicated entirely to the stupid things that Donald Trump has said and done on Twitter.  Sigh.  Speaking of the book….

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

IHOP gets nailed for sexist tweet

IHOP, like many brands, tweets in a cool-kid style, using modern terminology.  Every now and then, it also tries to get “edgy.”  I use that term loosely.

The edginess, however, backfired, with this tweet sent out on Sunday:

IHop Tweet

Nope.  Nope.  Bad idea!  There are some innuendos you can pull off, but references to women, like this, are absolutely a bad idea.

The reaction was swift:

IHOP found itself on the wrong end of national media coverage, and they deleted the tweet.  To their credit, IHOP saw the writing on the wall (home feed?) and also sent out an unqualified apology:

So, what’s the lesson?  There is some “edginess” that you can use – points where it’s okay to try to sound like you are talking to millennials.  I guess.  Personally, every time I see a brand use “on fleek” I want to explode because no human being on the face of the Earth actually tweets like that, but hey, that’s just me.  Anyway, regardless of whether or not you are pro- or anti-fleek, this much is clear: Don’t make insulting allusions to women’s breasts or body parts and be surprised about the aftermath.  IHOP gets points for handling the aftermath well, as they deleted the tweet quickly and sent out an appropriate apology.  That being said, prevent yourself from getting into this situation by never sending out tweets that look anything like this.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

Social Media Logo Collage

The best way to influence your Congressman may just be social media

One of the more common questions I am asked when I speak to groups is this: What’s the best way to reach out to you personally?  What’s the best way to influence you and other elected officials?  I tell people the truth: Don’t send a form Email (that’s nice, but we just kinda count those as a measure of intensity), call (I try to take all of those myself), send a personal Email, or use social media.  With the social media part, I’m always careful to caution that social media is a great way to connect with me, since I have it with me at all times, but for some electeds, that’s monitored only by a staff.

Turns out, a new survey shows that social media really is a great way to connect with elected officials.  According to a canvas of Congressional staffers, conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation, 30 or less social media posts can cause a Congressional office to “take heed” of public response.

I’d also make the argument that this is even more impactful on a local level, when elected officials tend to manage their own social media.  This study proves what I have been saying for years – that good use of social media is a great way to cut through the filters, through lobbyist groups, and connect with elected officials.  Because of its ubiquity, transparency and virtual requirement of genuineness, social media ensures that feedback is real and personal.  In all but the most advanced cases, it’s difficult to astroturf a social media campaign, and that means that elected officials tend to pay more attention to feedback received that way.

What does this mean for democracy?  Well, it’s good news.  Social media has made life harder for the media to some extent, because everyone is now a reporter.  You can apply that principle to democracy as well: Everyone can now, more than ever, be a lobbyist, with access to elected officials and their staff which was previously unavailable.  Thanks to social media, you can connect with your elected officials better than every before, and as noted by the study in question, can actually influence them too.