Crisis? What Crisis?

The importance of being self-aware when managing your social media accounts, no matter who you are.

Everybody seem to worry a lot about falling into a communications crisis in social media. I’ve seen people waking up in the middle of a Saturday night just to yell at their community managers because they had made a childish mistake; I’ve seen people being fired for stating their own opinions on their own social media accounts; I’ve seen politicians become very anxious because someone around them had said something against one of their policies or promises; and I’ve seen other people getting nervous because their community managers weren’t brave enough to answer certain people or topics online. I’ve seen a lot of things. Too many.

However, at the end of the day, when you look back at what happened to the businesses or people involved in these crises, the truth is that nothing really important ever happens.

We have plenty of examples, but here’s one that I especially like:

Let’s go back to 2011, when Sarkozy was France’s Prime Minister and Eric Besson was the Economy Minister.

One day, Besson twitted publicly what was supposed to be a private message:

“When I get home, I’m going to sleep. Too tired. With you?”

He realized his error quickly and deleted the tweet. But not quickly enough to get the message retweeted, screenshot, in the news around Europe, and in everybody’s conversations.

What was surprising was his reaction.

As soon as he deleted the tweet, he posted this one instead:

“lol and apologies. This will make me learn how to manipulate the draft list and push the right button. I don’t sleep…”

He started answering some of the comments he had received. Like this one, from Pascal Terrase, another politician. But also, some from journalists and from people all around France.

“Pascal. Do you want me to recall your last summer’s tweet fail?”

And at the same time, he gave three tweets as conclusions. He was the one to end the thread.

“Conclusion 1: Thanks everybody for your messages and DMs. I don’t have time to answer all of you. I’m sorry. Without resentment to the rest. It’s fair.
Conclusion 2: Nobody can say that I haven’t paid a price for using twitter, as Economy and Digital Minister.
Conclusion 3: I’m a little tired and I’m going to sleep… But tomorrow don’t miss the #NMwww talks. Great panel”

I don’t know if he went to bed or not. But he kept on receiving messages for over a month. A lot of op-eds talked about this issue. A lot of bloggers did too. (I did also, in a now extinct blog).

And he kept on answering in a more or less personalized way all the time.

What’s the moral of the story?

As I was saying at the beginning of this post, the truth is that nothing ever happens. This is just another example. People tend to quickly forget what’s wrong, so if you are aware of your mistakes and you react quickly, you can even gain from a crisis.

So whoever you are, if you mess up, don’t forget to recognize your mistake, own up to it, apologize and be humble. Everything will be alright.


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