Chrysler’s Missed Social Good Opportunity

The news outlets were abuzz yesterday after Chrysler’s social media “oops!” moment after an employee of their social media agency tweeted the following:

@chryslerautos: I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.

Oops!! Anyone that manages multiple Twitter accounts knows how easy it is to mistake one account for the next. However, when you’re a social media agency, mistakes like this just can’t happen, especially when your client is an automaker in a tough economy.

As expected, Chrysler immediately deleted the tweet and apologized saying their account had been “compromised”. Later, Chrysler issued a statement saying the agency employee who made the mistake had been fired (not by Chrysler). But, did it really warrant a firing?

What can Chrysler do to recover from this mistake? Sure a pointing of the finger and a “mea culpa” may make everyone feel better, but couldn’t they have used this media storm for some social good?

Take a page from the American Red Cross’ handbook for last month’s tweet about #gettngslizzerd. Another “Oops!” moment caught on Twitter.Again, an employee with access to the Red Cross Twitter account made a mistake. However, the Red Cross was quick to realize that we are all human and turned the tweet into something humorous. They removed the tweet, updated that they took the keys away, and told everyone to calm down because it’s just a tweet and not a real disaster, a scenario they deal with every single day.

Additionally, Dogfish Head Beer, the brewing company that was tweeted about from the Red Cross account, even started a Beer for Blood program. They asked their followers to donate to the American Red Cross. The outcome is that the Red Cross looks human and Dogfish Head Beer helps through some social good.

Chrysler should have taken note and followed a similar route. What about starting a campaign for safe driving in Detroit or a school for learning how to drive?

What do you think? Was the firing justified or overkill? What should Chrylser have done?

**Update: The employee responsible for the F-bomb was promptly fired by New Media Strategies. However, Chrysler took it a step further and chose not to renew its contract with the agency, which put about 20 people out of work.