A Tweet Too Much? National Theatre Twitter Muck-up

Posted on 25 August 2010 Written by

There is no denying that twitter is a powerful tool, and with such power comes a lot of responsibility. When operating social media tools for large companies or for that matter any company, the question of who you put in charge of the controls has be assessed. We bang on about how when using sites such as twitter we don’t want to plug into a direct line of marketing and instead want to hear a voice behind the tweets, a voice behind the company, and quite frankly a human voice not a marketing robot.

Yet with any human there comes mistakes, frustrations and an inevitable muck-up. It just couldn’t have come any worse for the National Theatre when clearly an employee in their digital marketing department let slip a rather frank and honest remark about an article which suggests the “National Theatre should have a Compulsory Demolition Order!” on the Evening Standard website (read the full article here).

Their response: Steve Norris is a giant…

Clearly someone has some explaining to do

The offensive tweet was quickly deleted from the NT’s feed, and some 50 minutes later, an apology was sent to it’s 9,878 followers stating that:

“Sincere apologies. The NT believes its account has been hacked. Earlier tweet in response to Standard article did not come from the NT.”

Regardless if the NT’s twitter was hacked into, or indeed an employee let slip some thoughts by mistake whilst thinking they were on their personal account, it calls to question just how safe organisations are from slip ups such as this. Earlier in the year we saw an outburst from the Southwark Playhouse twitter where the administrator admitted in a frank tweet that she had gotten fired. Of course the tweet was shortly deleted but not after it was passed around the twitter community… and indeed the tweeter in question still got fired.

Having a huge following as the National Theatre does mistakes come at a huge price, especially when using the language that appeared in the tweet – hacked into or not, someone tomorrow is going to be having some explaining to do.

Tips for keeping your twitter account secure:

1. Regularly change your password, using a combination of letters and numbers/symbols.
2. Limit the amount of people who have access to the account, especially employees who use personal accounts on twitter too.
3. Keep your passwords safely secure in an encrypted file when saving it on a computer.

Jake Orr

Jake Orr

Jake is the Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre. He is a freelance writer and blogger, a theatre marketer and a digital producer. He is also Co-Curator of Dialogue.

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. NJ Miller Says:

    You say ‘it just couldn’t have come any worse for the National Theatre’ (and indeed this morning it looks like this is being spun as an embarrassment) but at the time a lot of the general response on Twitter was along the lines of:
    1. Stop lying, you definitely weren’t ‘hacked’.
    2. You were right the first time, Steve Norris is what you said he is.
    3. No-one better get fired for this or there’ll be trouble.
    4. This is the only interesting thing @nationaltheatre has ever tweeted.

    It’s interesting that for most people, what they found objectionable wasn’t the language or the opinion of the original tweet, it was the attempt by the National to distance itself from it after the fact.

  2. Alex Says:

    You could alternatively use something like CoTweet, which puts another layer of security on top of your twitter account. It’s far better than trying to manage just the one twitter login.

  3. Paul Says:

    Did you read this open letter to the National Theatre from Megan Vaughan?

    A far more insightful and appealing response to the matter than your own rather pious piece above. Bloody brilliant, in fact.

  4. Toby Says:

    Demolishing theatres is pretty cunty in my eyes.

5 Trackbacks For This Post

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    [...] account when they tweeted: “Well, Steve Norris is clearly a giant cunt“. According to A Younger Theatre blog, the offending tweet was removed 50 minutes and an apology issued to the company’s followers [...]

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    [...] This is no job for an intern – your digital channels are the first port of call for new audiences, they are the most prominent, open, accessible and public channels you have – this is a job for a professional.  See ‘Steve Norris is clearly a giant c**t’ [...]

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