Gap veers from its social media policy in Twitter blunder

The retailer was blasted for mentioning shopping on in a tweet that referenced Hurricane Sandy. Earlier this year, we celebrated the company’s social media policy.

Gap on Tuesday offered companies an invaluable lesson: Even the best social media policies can’t prevent a PR firestorm online.

The retailer, which asks its employees to abide by a social media policy, is taking a beating for tweeting this message as Hurricane Sandy barreled toward the U.S. on Monday:

“All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of shopping today? How about you?” (The tweet has since been deleted.)

Twitter users blasted Gap, calling the tweet unethical, not cool, tasteless, and so on. Several people suggested Gap and American Apparel—which offered a Hurricane Sandy Sale—donate clothes to flood victims to make amends.

Hours after the offending tweet, Gap issued this explanation:

Earlier this year, PR Daily held up Gap’s social media policy as a shining example for other brands. You can see excerpts from that policy here, but here are some highlights:

There’s really no such thing as “delete” on the Internet, so please—think before you post.

Some subjects can invite a flame war. Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others’ opinions.

It’s a small world and we’re a global company. Remember that what you say can be seen by customers and employees all over the world and something you say in one country might be inaccurate or offensive in another.

Play nice. Be respectful and considerate, no trolling, troll baiting, or flaming anybody, even our competitors.

If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.

Add value. Make sure your posts really add to the conversation. If it promotes Gap Inc.’s goals and values, supports our customers, improves or helps us sell products, or helps us do our jobs better, then you are adding value.

Read more from Gap’s social media policy here.

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