US Airways have joined the long and growing list of organizations that have had some explaining to do after an inappropriate tweet or post appears on their account.
You can find the story details here but needless to say the story focus quickly moves on from the original error to the response. Once that hacking has been eliminated the company has to face up to the fact that it was an inside job and look at securing the damage as soon as possible.
This can involve locking the account, changing the password and making sure that only trusted sources have access in the minutes, hours and days afterwards when scrutiny of the channel is going to be at its most intense.
Regardless of whose fault it was, people are looking for honesty, transparency and accountability – the most effective social media apologies have been all of these things. Not every instance has to end with a sacking.
In the case of the American Red Cross, more funds ended up being raised for the organization by the beer brand mentioned in the tweet because it was handled sensitively and sensibly. I doubt an identikit corporate responsibility statement stripped of its humanity and humility would have achieved the same response.
All of these stories underline the key truth of social media company accounts – even though they represent brands, they are run by humans and humans are all as fallible as one another – so if an unfortunate post and its aftermath jumps to the top of your in-tray one rainy day, bear that in mind and act like a human, not a brand.