Horse meat in food meant for human consumption isn’t a laughing matter. But try telling Twitter that. After revelations about burgers on sale in Tesco containing 29% horse meat hit the news on Wednesday, the hashtag #TescoProducts went ballistic, with hundreds of jokes and humorous comments flying around the network.
“Horsemeat has been found in #TescoProducts, but a spokesman says it’s bollocks”, said one person. “A woman has been taken to hospital after eating horsemeatburgers. Her condition is said to be stable”, said another. “Are you in favour of Horsemeat in your burgers? Yay or Neigh?”, cracked someone else. And “Scientist: Sir, we’ve discovered horse meat in your burgers. Tesco boss: Why the long face?”, joked another. One joker filmed a video of a pantomime horse mourning the loss of his parents in a Tesco aisle! I even got in on the action myself yesterday, tweeting “Horses for courses #TescoProducts” when referencing how people have preferences for different social media platforms. And on, and on, and on…
No Sense of Humour
Sadly though, Tesco didn’t get the joke and has been fighting fire ever since. Yes it’s a PR crisis of pretty huge magnitude if some of the stories of fines and possible prison sentences in today’s papers are to be believed. But a little humour goes a very long way when it comes to social media, and I do wonder whether Tesco could have handled things far, far better by adopting a slightly lighter tone when dealing with the Twitter firestorm. Instead though, it’s been made into a laughing stock, not helped by two simply awful tweets.
The first, shown below, is naive and misjudged. Given all the cracks about horses flying around, you’d think the person running the Twitter account that morning might possibly have had their eyes open for this type of thing.
But the second is, for me, simply unforgivable. I’ve been laughing at it all morning. At first, I thought the tweet shown at the top of this post was a genuine light-hearted moment from Tesco. And I thought it was genius. A hay joke…in the middle of a horse meat scandal 🙂 But it soon became apparent that it was another naive mistake, having been scheduled ahead of the crisis. And Tesco has now spent hours apologising. Oh dear. Oh very dear.
Whoever is in charge of the Tesco Twitter account shouldn’t be. It’s that simple. Handled well, social media and Twitter in particular can assist greatly in a crisis situation. Handled poorly, it can (and will) make things worse. Has Tesco handled things well? Without doubt, neigh…
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Posted by Paul Sutton