Thanks to judicious handling, a mistakenly sent tweet by a Red Cross employee turned into good publicity for a beer company and more donations for the Red Cross.
Gloria Huang, a social media marketer for the Red Cross, was using social-media management tool HootSuite and sent what was meant to be a private tweet to a friend via the Red Cross account rather than her personal one.
In the modern-day version of "reply all" on email, she tweeted: "Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch beer.... when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd." (“Getting slizzered,” of course, referring to getting drunk — which the Red Cross says Huang was not at the time of the tweet).
An hour later, Wendy Harman, Red Cross social media director, responded on the Twitter account, "We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys."
Turns out that Twitter followers of the Red Cross didn't mind the red face; and, in fact, cheered the easygoing response and started donating.
Dogfish Head also mentioned the incident on its blog and Twitter account and directed its fans to the charity, while HootSuite donated $100 to the Red Cross and sent beer cozies to Huang and Dogfish Head.
The charity also addressed the issue on its blog: "While we're a 130-year-old humanitarian organization, we're also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good."
And that was the key — acknowledging its mistake and doing so with humor.
The incident — or more correctly, the handling of the incident — revealed its human side and managed to bring its constituents closer in a situation that could have alienated them. It even won some new fans.
It was also a happy ending for Huang, who, though probably quite embarrassed, gets to keep her job. But you can bet she’ll be double-checking which Twitter account she is using from now on.