As you all may know, the US men’s national soccer team celebrated an impressive victory against the Ghana national team in their opening World Cup match on June 16th. Like many proud US natives, Delta Airlines wanted to post a congratulatory tweet about the team’s victory while still paying homage to their competitors–but what they did has instead lead to nothing but criticism and offensive allegations regarding the company’s competency, ethical standards, and views.
The infamous tweet displayed 2 images, one of the statue of liberty at sunset with a large 2 centered in the middle, covering nothing but open sky. The image to its right displayed a giraffe, strategically placed to the far right side of the image so that the white number 1 would contrast against the purple sky in the background. For those of you who did not have the pleasure of watching the game, the numbers indicated the score. The tweet read: Congrats team #USA! Nice goal @clint_dempsey @soundersfc! #USAvGHA #USMNT #DeltaSEA.
For those of you who don’t have a grasp of the situation now, the giraffe image indicates a total disassociation with the opposing team’s country of origin. Yes, giraffes live in Africa, and Ghana is located in Africa, but Ghana is located on the western coast, a region where giraffes do not thrive. Twitter users around the world voiced their distaste for the tweet, calling it ignorant, patronizing, and racist. Due to the mass hysteria that erupted from the social networkers on Twitter, Delta quickly removed the tweet, replacing it with an apology… of sorts: We’re sorry for our choice of photo in our precious tweet. Best of luck to all teams playing in the World Cup.
While it’s encouraged to have timely/real-time social posts that support current or world events, it’s ALWAYS important to do research first. It’s better to release a tweet 10 minutes later and ensure that everything is accurate. If you do happen to post an incorrect tweet, make sure that you double, triple, and quadruple check all spelling and grammar on the new tweet. While the “our precious tweet” was deleted and replaced with “our previous tweet” only minutes after it was posted, its presence has still inflicted a lasting and irreparable wound on the Delta name.
Real-time marketing is a great social media strategy, just do your homework first. Professional marketers recommend having 70% of your marketing effort planned while only leaving 30% open to real-time information. Don’t rush, take your time and ensure you have valid and correct information. Also, in certain situations, like this one, you could have two wonderfully researched and grammatically correct tweets precomposed. The one that gets posted depends on the outcome of the game. Not all situations are as reactive as they may appear, make your posts more proactive and always do extensive research–especially if the topic addresses a topic of interest to an audience on a global scale.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the Web! XOXO