18 Jun

Think first, Tweet later: particularly if you have a comms dept

Sorry to jump on quite an obvious bandwagon (ignore my previous post about ‘jumping on bandwagons’), but I saw something, yesterday, that infuriated me: the whole saga of Delta Airlines tweeting a picture of a giraffe as representative of Ghana.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read the full story here, but – in summary – Delta Airlines tweeted this picture, below, after USA beat Ghana in a World Cup football match:


Why am I ‘infuriated’? Because the whole situation was unnecessary, completely avoidable, and – with the resources available to the company – unforgivable. In fact, I genuinely don’t understand how it happened.

Delta Airlines are a massive, multi-billion dollar, national company, with flights covering six continents – do they not have a comms department? Do they not have a social media team, with a highly paid manager at the helm? Maybe they just passed responsibility for that tweet to a 15 year old intern?

Obviously, Statue of Liberty = USA, but did none of the staff in the social media/comms department do even 30 seconds research to see if Ghana has giraffes? How much effort would it have taken to Google ‘giraffes in Ghana’?
Better still, why not just Google ‘landmarks in Ghana’ and find one to put alongside the Statue of Liberty? Or, if that doesn’t quite work, the Ghanaian football team are known as the ‘Black Stars’ – why not show an image of USA’s ‘stars and stripes’, opposite a black star?

To my mind, Delta Airlines deserve all the stick they are getting for this tweet, even the general shouts of ‘racist’. I’m not saying that Delta are racist – I think that’s a bit OTT – but their sheer laziness has left them open to that accusation.
It would’ve taken five minutes of research to get things right, but the thinking seems to have been: ‘let’s get this tweet out, quick…. Statue of Liberty for the U.S…. Ghana….um, they’re African…. I think most of Africa is the same in terms of animals….let’s just show a giraffe for Ghana.’

I’d expect this kind of stuff from a small digital agency, operating from someone’s bedroom, with three staff, not a huge, national airline.

I think the reason I’m infuriated is because, if I did the same thing – just little old me – I’d expect to lose followers and, potentially, clients through my laziness and ignorance.
Luckily for Delta Airlines, they have millions of customers and provide a necessary service, so – in time – people will forget about this episode.
Maybe they’ll just do a little bit of research before punting stuff out there, online, in future.

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