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2014 What Not To Tweet: Lessons from Justine Sacco Diabolical

by Genevieve

Man holding a social media sign smilingIn this age of unmitigated transparency—one mistake can go around the globe through social media instantly—individuals must be careful to say what they mean and mean what they say.  Moreover, if you have a business or better yet, if you are the head honcho at a global brand, your online presence must be expressed within the same core meanings of the brand you represent so that the authenticity of the brand is not threatened and your consumers who travel virtually are not turned off.

Recently, on her trip to Africa, Justine Sacco, Public Relations Chief at IAC, the company owns brands like,,, investopedia, Vimeo,, and a host of other companies and Websites, tweeted an offensive joke about Africans having AIDS.  Though by the time IAC tried to remedy the wrong by responding publicly, “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC“, the tweet had already gone viral and was a trending global topic with the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet.

As of the time this article went to press, Justine Sacco had not issued a statement that would perhaps plead her case.  Though even if she did, would one statement sufficiently exonerate her?  Think about how often this year we said things online that we did not mean because we did not take the time to stop for a minute to think about the dire implications. If you were Justine Sacco, what would you do now that you are the butt of a joke gone awry? Moreover, if you are the CEO of a brand like IAC where customer loyalty and building relationships with your customer base to drive relevance for your brand is of the utmost importance, what would you do?  We agree with Christianna Giodano, digital executive at Cohn & Wolfe, who suggests individuals and brands “take the pledge and never over share on social media.” In her recent article, she suggests a list of 14 social media aspirations to warmly embrace for 2014.  So, what are yours? Have you thought about it?  If not, you probably should.  And, while you are it, perhaps send us a few of your resolutions about how you will leverage social media to grow yourself and/or your brand in the New Year.

Feel free to share your questions and insights via the comment section, or email me at [email protected]. Also, follow me on Twitter @MUIPR so that we can both aspire and grow on social media together.


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