US Airways' Porn Tweet: 5 Lessons for Businesses - Free Enterprise
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US Airways' Porn Tweet: 5 Lessons for Businesses

US Airways received an online beating Monday for a tweet that took off and went viral: a pornographic picture posted to Twitter in response to a customer's complaint.

After the customer tweeted @USAirways complaining of a flight delay, the company's social media team attached a NSFW photo of a naked woman aiming a model jetliner toward her private parts. US Airways is calling the incident a "mistake," but it will not be firing the employee responsible, reports Forbes.

Worried about your company's own turbulent tweets? Keep these five lessons in mind to avoid any similar social media snafus:

1. Don't Tweet Porn.

This used to go without saying, but US Airways is blazing new trails for major corporations by "accidentally" posting pornographic images on its Twitter feed. Your Web presence shouldn't seem robotic, and to err is certainly human, but it is hard to comprehend a scenario where a full frontal image would help your business' reputation.

2. Train Your Social Media Team.

Twitter is a great way for customers to kvetch about their issues with your products and services, and you should have a dedicated team -- either on- or off-site -- ready to field potential complaints. Part of using social media as an effective customer service tool is professionalism, which means training your Twitter team to act with upmost care in responding to customers.

A spokesman for the American Airlines Group (which owns US Airways) told The Washington Post the offending tweet was "an honest mistake" on the part of the employee responsible. the spokesman claims the image was inadvertently shared by the employee who had intended to flag it as inappropriate.

3. Fire Employees or Fall on Your Sword.

Although the airline spokesman told the Post the company "deeply regret[s]" the mistake, it will not be firing the employee who tweeted the pornographic image. While this certainly is a teachable moment for that employee, this incident may be enough of a red flag to fire him or her.

4. Avoid Being Hacked.

US Airways took responsibility for its tweet, but your next Twitter blunder might be a hackers' handiwork. Even the Associated Press' Twitter account was once hacked, so make sure you're taking steps to prevent this such as being alert for "phishing" emails and changing your passwords often.

5. Consider Social Media Insurance.

Yes, there really is such a thing as social media insurance. It purports to protect businesses from damages related to "reputational harm" on social media. While this may have seemed frivolous five years ago, these policies may seem much more attractive today.

While US Airways seems to have moved on from its pornographic tweet, Twitter certainly wasn't. Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity.

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