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A slice of truth: Why Pizza Hut’s social faux pas could have happened to you

Pizza Hut has come under the spotlight after a staff member on its social media agency team tweeted out a comment about transgendered women.

In a statement to A+M Jean Ler, chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut Malaysia said the employee from the agency had tweeted a personal tweet on the brand’s official Twitter account by mistake. Although the employee had later realised the error and deleted the post, it wasn’t quick enough to escape the wrath of netizens. Pizza Hut decided that strong action was needed and as such, dropped the social media agency.

Speaking to A+M on the matter, Li Lian Hor, head of digital at FCB KL, said that while human errors do happen, if proper processes were put in place, this can be avoided. To avoid errors like these, agencies and social media managers should practice using proper social media publishing tools, instead of publishing natively on the social platform instead.

“With social publishing tools, one can keep personal accounts separate from the brand accounts they are managing,” Hor explained. She added that using a dedicated company mobile device to manage all client/brand related social media publishing is also advisable. And of course, when possible, it is always good to get another pair of eyes to check the posts before publishing it.

“The actions taken by Pizza Hut Malaysia to immediately deleting the tweet and acknowledge what happened was the right move. It’s always recommended to admit and acknowledge mistakes, and outline the steps taken to avoid the problem from occurring again,” she said.

Prantik Mazumdar founder and CEO of Happy Marketer called the incident an unfortunate one but explained that this is an inherent risk in managing social media communities – especially when there are multiple account holders. Mazumdar said that while a check and balance system can allow one to spot errors and make amends quickly, it still may not be enough to salvage the situation.

“Either customers or other media channels may have already seen the message and taken a screenshot of it for posterity. Or the notification of the social media message remains in the notification panel on mobile devices, which doesn’t get deleted even after the message may have been deleted,” he added. He highlighted several points to keep in check:

  • Limit the number of people who have admin/edit rights on social media pages.
  • Ensure that only specific devices are used to upload content, and these devices must only have access to official accounts and not personal accounts.
  • Implement severe penalties to act as a potential deterrent.
  • Require everyone on the team to be trained on these guidelines regularly.
  • Set checks and balance system in place wherein once someone uploads a message onto social media, another senior person gets an alert or a notification to check if the right content was uploaded.

Meanwhile Pat Law, founder of Singapore-based social media agency GOODSTUPH said one “sure shot” way to avoid such pitfalls would be to “hire people with basic human decency and respect for others” and “with good eyesight to ensure the wrong tweet does not go out the door.”

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