The art of apologizing in 140 characters

On social media, when something goes wrong it escalates quickly. Here’s advice about how your Twitter team should (and shouldn’t) respond.

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Businesses can connect with target audiences without any intermediary filter to obstruct or otherwise taint their message. They say what they want to say to the people they most want to reach.

At the same time, a company’s Twitter presence opens up the possibility of offending those same audiences or otherwise committing some sort of brand-damaging social media faux pas. When this occurs, there’s a lot riding on how well (or how poorly) a business apologizes—also via Twitter.

These days, it seems, businesses are apologizing all over the place. A recent study in the Journal of Pragmatics noted that, between 2010 and 2012, corporate Twitter accounts used the word “sorry” nearly nine times as often as individuals did. The words “apology” or “apologize” occurred over seven times more often for businesses, and the word “regret” popped up more than 37 times in corporate tweets.

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