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Are Brands Harming Themselves by Apologizing Too Often on Twitter?

April 17, 2014

Brands might be harming themselves by apologizing too often on Twitter, saying the wrong things and bringing attention to incidents that would otherwise go little noticed and quickly disappear, reports.

A now-infamous example of a Twitter apology gone wrong came from US Airways on April 14, when in a response to a customer’s complaint about a late flight the airline’s Twitter feed attached a sexually explicit photograph of a woman and a toy airplane. US Airways subsequently tweeted, “We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.”

Twitter and other social media ostensibly facilitate more informal, empathetic connections between brands and customers, with brands sometimes saying they’re sorry. But “Would you feel confident that a brand that is constantly publicly apologizing is going to provide you with a quality experience?” said Rick Liebling, marketing head at Unmetric, a social media analytics company.

According to Unmetric data, American Airlines and US Airways, now merged, are the two most apologetic airlines on Twitter. For brands in general there are appropriate times to apologize, reports, but many of the tweets have a ritualistic, almost robotic quality, offering sentiments that don’t seem genuine. — Greg Beaubien


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