A few days ago, on April 28, on the official Facebook profile of “la Repubblica” a post popped up about the umpteenth controversy between Beppe Grillo and the journalists (no matter which controversy it was about – one of the many).
A few minutes later, the newspaper’s account (the same as the one who had signed the post) published this comment: «Poor delusional idiot…».

Crisis management, this unknown

Yes, you got it right, the insult was personally signed by la Repubblica and not by a troll, a hater or any reader.
It is thus clear that some of the staff involved in Repubblica’s fanpage mistakenly wrote a personal comment while still logging in as “Repubblica” (supposedly convinced of being disconnected from the newspaper account and once again logged in with his/her personal account). But, even worse, the reaction of the newspaper’s social media editors was long awaited, and consequently the comment remained on-line enough to trigger a big series of reactions, which then “forced” the editorial staff to publish a note of apologies to both readers and of course Beppe Grillo.

It’s a dirty craft, but someone has to do it

Epic fail! How many times have we heard this expression about social environment? Of course it’s normal that such things happen (and we all cuddle in the idea that they will happen just to others) but admittedly it’s easy to turn social media from useful brand-reputation tools into dangerous “brand-retaliation” boomerangs.
No matter what we think of the leader of Movimento 5 Stelle and of his hate against journalists, it is undeniable that such a colossal media as Repubblica doesn’t make the most of itself by releasing this kind of comments. At least we are driven to consider either that it doesn’t devote enough resources to social media (and as far as I know, no newspaper or online magazine is really well structured in this regard), or that it dedicates to this critical role inadequate professionals.
On the contrary, well-trained and good-experienced professionals are just basic. While it’s true that “wrong is human” and “even the best make mistakes”, just consider what incalculable damage can make a cheap human resource.

Collateral damages

The Internet is actually full of tragic communication errors, which went viral causing a huge damage to the image of those who had made them: from Melegatti (which attracted the LGBT community’s anger with a homophobic post and was forced to immediately apologize) to Algida (which on women’s day published the photo of an ice cream that would look like a rose but actually recalled something totally different…), from Vanity Fair (due to a bad article on the Syrian refugee tragedy on Christmas 2016) to Piovono Zucchine (a Brindisi-based restaurant which the day before Halloween “joked” too much with central Italy’s earthquake), to former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who’s been once guilt of a really politically incorrect phrase (All but the disabled on Facebook, referring to the photos accompanying the post on the inauguration of a new bridge in Alessandria. Obviously all of them did, apart from the one depicting a very specific subject).

Go viral by spending little: Pros and Cons

Do you want to have fun? Just google “epic fail” and you will find so many errors, either as case studies or as enticements to boycott this or that brand as a form of retaliation. All these errors went viral much more than their authors would have wished.
In short, while such “brand retaliations” can happen even to giant companies, small and medium-sized ones should be more concerned with them, because they usually strive to be on all social channels but investing only a few tens of thousands of Euros per year…
Believe me, Oscar Wilde’s famous phrase “It doesn’t matter if you talk good or bad, it just matters that you talk about it” sometimes is really nonsense.

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