#samaritansradar: Appealing for real in the social media apology

Nov 7, 2014

Samaritans have suspended their Twitter monitoring app.  I initially thought it was a nice idea but I was being naive and the case for rethinking it was made well online and in the media.

Loads of people have written insightful things abut why the app could have been harmful – take a look at this, this and this if you’re just catching up with the story.

I wanted to talk about the apology.

Judging by replies to this tweet, the way it’s worded has not gone down well.

I actually think, along with the other tweets announcing the suspension, they’ve done OK in responding and many orgs wouldn’t have responded as well. (8/11/2014 – Not the case now as they’ve been silent since I wrote this). But, as an apology:

  • It’s not wholehearted
  • I can imagine it was composed by committee
  • It sounds like they’re covering their arses from legal action

Which is not the best way to make distressed, angry or hurt people feel forgiving.

“Sorry we got it wrong” would be good here.  The app’s been suspended so it’s obviously not right.

I guess nobody doubts their intentions were good. I do know that getting this kind of thing signed off by management can be a nightmare in some organisations.

Sometimes, I see tweets like these and imagine the running around, persuading and meetings going on behind the 140 characters. People internally will probably have worked hard, and feel attacked and misunderstood.

This kind of Twitterstorm or comms crisis is the time for where social media and PR people can make a really big impact.

This kind of tweet should actually serve social media people well in as an example when making the case that a full apology is how is should be done.

Appeal to leaders in the org to make apologies feel human and genuine and you’ll save everyone a bit of extra grief and I think the public will be a bit more likely to cut you some slack.

This, a bit later, is better:

Reckon I’m right? I was wrong in thinking the app was cool when I first heard about it so happy to be persuaded otherwise (and I may say I was wrong with full and frank apology)!

Here’s a quick guide to how to respond on social media and here’s my argument for why being disobedient helps you do good things.



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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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