The top 5 corporate Twitter disasters of 2012

2012 has been the year big businesses finally took the big leap toward embracing social media. But it’s also produced some of the most disastrous tweets in corporate Twitter history…

Here are 5 of the year’s biggest corporate Twitter blunders, and some thoughts on how the right technology and some basic training could’ve helped:

1. Insensitive employee tweets a presidential low-blow

On Oct. 3, in the course of the first US presidential debate, President Barack Obama mentioned his grandmother, who died just days before he took office. Moments later, this tweet went out to KitchenAid’s 24,000-plus followers. As outrage flooded in, KitchenAid went into apology mode, explaining that an employee mistakenly sent the offensive remark from the corporate handle, rather than his or her personal account.

Analysis: Sadly, this kind of account mix-up happens all the time. Heavy Twitter users often post to multiple accounts, switching back and forth on the fly. Mistakes are inevitable. That’s why leading social media management systems like HootSuite now prompt users with a special window before they publish to designated, high-profile accounts. Setting up these so-called secure profiles is often all it takes to avert a Twitter meltdown.

Click here to see the other 4. Sometimes stupid, gauche, silly – always embarrassing to any corporation committed to a dialogue with a broad representation of American society.

72-year-old grandpa finds work as women’s fashion model

Liu Qianping was visiting his 24-year-old granddaughter in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou recently when the women’s clothes the aspiring fashion entrepreneur was packing into boxes caught his eye.

His visit came as the model that granddaughter Lu Ting and four friends had booked for a photo shoot to promote their online fashion business suddenly canceled, dealing a setback to their new venture.

But Liu, a 72-year-old former farmer visiting to escape the chilly winter of central Hunan province, stepped in to help.

“I walked into the room and saw them packing up some clothes and I thought they looked quite interesting and quite cute,” Liu told Reuters.

“So I tried on a jacket and they found it really funny, and I thought it was quite funny. So they asked if they could take pictures of me and post them on the Internet to sell the clothes. And I said, ‘why not?'”

It was at that time two weeks ago that a star was born.

Liu, known affectionately as “MaDiGaGa” – funny elderly – is now one of China’s most recognized models…

Liu, who traveled to Shanghai with his daughter for the first time last week after they were invited to appear on television, said he had been approached by other companies to model for them but had turned them down…

Ting has been criticized on the Internet and accused of using her grandfather, but he insists the experience has put a spring in his step and she says they are now closer than ever.

Cripes. He’s doing better than me. The only time I’ve been asked to be photographed was as a potential grandfatherly motorcycle gang-type in a prison movie.

Israel eases restrictions on Gaza fishing – sort of

Israel has eased restrictions on Gaza fishermen, further implementing a three-day-old truce brokered by Egypt after a week of fierce fighting with Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip…

A statement from the office of Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas government, said on Saturday Egypt had notified the group that “Israel has allowed Palestinian fishermen to fish in Gaza’s waters at a distance of six miles, up from three miles”…

Golly. Wow!

“…actually under the Oslo accord, the interim agreement that was signed in the 1990s, Gaza fishermen should be allowed to go to 20 nautical miles out and that would make a massive difference to the [fishing] industry…”

Israel had formally barred Gaza fishermen from heading more than three miles out into the Mediterranean Sea for about three years, its gunboats often enforcing the rule…

“Fishermen have been stuck to three nautical miles. It’s been next to nothing to fish here for the last few years. They have even resorted to getting fish from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels at different times”.

Remember the Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

The Israelis only seem to recall proverbs learned from the people who didn’t really give a shit what was done to Jews – starve a captive nation into submission. Keep a man from fishing and sooner or later he will obey. They say.

I had a dear friend who was one of the few who survived the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. She made it to safety in Russia. She got away from the horror being committed by the German nation gone mad. Her husband was dead. Her daughters were dead. Everything that had been her life as a Jew, an intellectual, a scholar in pre-war Poland was dead. So, she went back. Went back into Poland to fight the Nazis. Thugs never realize that if they take everything away – you have nothing to lose.

“China lands fighter jet on new carrier in show of force”

This has my nomination for dumb Cold War headline of the week!

China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, state media said on Sunday, a symbolically significant development as Asian neighbors fret about the world’s most populous country’s military ambitions.

The home-built J-15 fighter jet took off from and landed on the Liaoning, a reconditioned Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine which only came into service in September this year…

Spend some time searching around the world. The only people “fretting” are Cold Warriors and obedient editors.

China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

It has also warned the United States, with President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, not to get involved.

“We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age,” Hu said.

Oh. Such a scary quote about force of arms.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011, an elite helicopter unit and the launch of the aircraft carrier.

I don’t fault the journalists at Reuters especially. They get paid to crank out what the editors demand – and they have more opportunity to produce useful, informative work than many of their peers. I’m a fan of Reuters going all the way back to Edward G. Robinson. 🙂

But, this Cold War crap isn’t worth the weight of electrons it consumes. Who is the foreign power sailing into these waters? Anyone recall how Japan originally took ownership of the islands in question in the East China Sea? Folks in Formosa [Taiwan] surely do. Who is bringing a battle flotilla into waters thousands of miles from home – at American taxpayers’ expense?

I occasionally report on military hardware. What geek doesn’t? The only military in this scenario that’s operating with imperial arrogance – is the United States Navy. Mail me a penny postcard when China sails an uninvited warcraft up Long Island or into Chesapeake Bay. Please.