I’m settling in to my day-to-day routine after being on vacation for a week and a half, most of which was spent offline. Catching up on what’s been happening, I’ve seen a few examples of brands experiencing some social media embarrassment. Last night, a DiGiorno Pizza employee learned a very valuable lesson: don’t participate in a hashtag’s conversation without knowing what the hashtag is about.

#WhyIStayed began as a way to show support for Janay Rice, the wife of newly suspended NFL receiver Ray Rice after video of him brutally punching her in an elevator was published online. People were sharing their personal stories of domestic abuse with each other. Many of the messages were powerful and  heart wrenching:

In the midst of stories of domestic abuse being shared, the person behind the DiGiorno decided to tweet this:

DigGorno #whyIstayed tweet

Clearly, they posted without looking up what the hashtag was about and what other people who were saying while using the tag. As a social media person, you need to be aware of the context of the conversation as well as what prompted the start of the conversation. Just like you can’t control a hastag you’ve started, you also can’t can’t just chime into an on-going discussion, especially when it’s promoting a product.

The original tweet has since been deleted and the DiGiorno community manager is now apologizing to as many people as he/she can:

DiGiorno Apologies

Let this be a lesson to all social media and community managers, be mindful of what you’re about to share and always try your best to be aware of the basis of the conversation. As the DiGiorno staffer now realizes, your mistake can be both embarassing to your brand as well as insulting to those participating in the hashtag.