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New online crisis management tool but is it all that?

Have you ever tweeted something and spelt a word wrong? Or included the wrong link? Or worse still tweeted from the wrong account? Well now there is a new Twitter application which allows you to contact everyone who has retweeted you, informing them of your mistake.retwact

Retwact has a sound basis as it can access the last five tweets which have been retweeted, and all you simply have to do is type a retraction tweet, for example:

“I was wrong about this : New Wire: Five Ways to “Get Rich Quick!” http://t.co/0WC4kKToox #student”

Retwact will simply retweet the retraction and contact anyone who retweeted it with the message:

Please retweet this retraction to stop the flow of misinformation :
” RTRetract ‘@Student_Wire : New Wire: Five Ways to “Get Rich Quick!” http://t….’ http://rtrt.co/r/320121723271929856 via @retwact ”

The only problem with this is that Retwact cannot force the person who retweeted the original message to tweet the corrected message and so it could mean you still have a problem if you are involved in an online crisis. This basically means that people are still going to see your original mistake, and you are relying on the goodwill of others to send out the correction. I don’t know how much I would rely on that – have you ever sent an email to the wrong person and tried to recall it for instance?

retwact2

For those regular users this should be simple enough, as maybe only five or six people have retweeted you. However, for big brands and high profile celebrities, they have thousands of retweets every single day, so it will still be difficult to control when a big mistake is made.

So what does this mean for PRs? Well it certainly doesn’t mean we can sit back and rest on our laurels. Retwact is not perfect by any means, however in the event of a very, very small scale online error it can be used when we’ve tweeted something impulsive or factually incorrect.

Looking at a past case scenario, such as HMV, could Retwact have stopped everyone seeing and retweeting those tweets? I don’t think so. And the people that were enjoying watching the situation probably wouldn’t have sent out a correction tweet. Retwact is a nice, simple tool which can be used to correct simple mistakes, such as names, links and dates, but is certainly not that much of a show stopper for online crisis management.

We all know that we should try to make sure our tweets are factually correct before publishing them. Once something is put out there for the world to see, it tends to stay out there, and the more scandalous the claim, then the more people will see and hear about it, no matter how many retraction tweets you publish. Basically, if people can point fun at your error the chances are they will do.

Do you have a tool that could be useful in an online crisis?

A bit hat-tip to my good friend Rax Lakhani for sharing this one with me this morning.

 

 

 

Chris Norton

Chris is listed in the world's top 30 PR bloggers and a regular conference speaker on crisis management and social media marketing. He is also co-author of Share This Too and lectures on digital communications at Leeds Metropolitan University.

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