What do Pepsi, McDonald’s, K-Mart and Home Depot all have in common? They’re one of many big name brands that have had started a social media wildfire and now you can add The New England Patriots to this ever-growing list.

In honor of hitting their most recent Twitter milestone of 1 million followers, the Patriots were creating custom personalized digital jersey’s with the @names of users who retweeted the message about the milestone (see tweet below).

But an alleged “failed filtering system” allowed a custom made digital jersey displaying one user’s incredibly offensive name – how that was allowed by Twitter is a whole other can of worms – to all of the Twitterverse. (NSFW due to some offensive language)


Let me break this down for you folks.

If your filtering system is anything other than 1) one, or more, human beings and 2) properly trained, then you’re doing it wrong. Notice there are two distinct parts to that answer.

In their efforts to create a contest of such a large scale, the Pats, more than likely, used an automated stream to create these digital jerseys en masse that was clearly running unchecked. Basic risk analysis (i.e. “Could anything negative happen?) could have nipped this in the bud. Even some quality checking which could have people trying to just break the contest, could have prevented this before anything happened. But EVEN IF you didn’t have either of those, which most small businesses don’t, all could have been avoided with a simple approval system and a properly trained person.

For an organization like this and a contest of this size, it would need to be a team of people strapped into their seats, staring at a dashboard approving, or disapproving photos, making sure that everything was on the level. More importantly, those people should have already been properly trained in the platform. Now you don’t need to be a genius to scan names and prevent bad ones from going out, but why risk it?

That may sound like a costly waste of resources and perhaps even inefficient, but no matter how fast Social Media and the internet is, incidents like these stay with a company for a long time. The extra resources up front are far less than the resources used to repair the damage and control the situation.

This does not mean, never automate anything.

There are plenty of tools (one of my favorites is Buffer) out there to use that can help you better use your time and allow yourself to work “bigger.” But the best tools REQUIRE human interaction in one fashion or another.

At this point, with all of the prime examples out there of what not to do, it may be a simple case of hubris by big organizations who either STILL don’t fully respect social media, believe themselves to be above the other mishaps or too big to be affected by them.

Whatever the reason, these social media wildfires can be easily prevented by investing a little more time and resources. In case you skipped to the bottom, that means you need to put a properly-trained person smack in between the button being pressed and the situation exploding.

Or perhaps the rest of us just need constant reminders about social media automation and organizations are all working together to keep us sharp and vigilant in an effort to “give back.”