When things go sideways on social media – and they will – it’s how you respond that matters.Whether it’s an accidental tweet or an overeager trigger finger hitting the post button too soon, I guarantee you’ve encountered a social media fail.
But what happens next is key.
Do you panic, frantically racing around trying to fix what went wrong?While that might work (sometimes), being proactive rather than reactive is truly the best strategy.Because let's face it --
There’s rarely a positive outcome when you’re reacting to a situation.
Typically, reaction leads to overreaction, which can quickly spiral from bad to worse to all-out catastrophe in a matter of moments.The only way to combat being reactive (and possibly combative) is to put in place a plan. A plan that outlines the how, when, where and what of any social media misfortune.Ready to put your best foot forward, no matter the social media situation?Follow this simple three-step fix to your social media mistake!
How to Fix Any Social Media Fail
1. Assess the Damage
Was the error simply a rogue tweet or random misspelling within a post? No worries!It might be as simple as leaving it be or deleting it altogether. No harm, no foul.If the damage is worse - say one of your employees shared private information in a public setting - it might take bigger steps to rectify.
Take a few moments to determine:
- Was anyone harmed by the content shared?
- Was the content offensive?
- Was any information tweeted or posted for private consumption only?
- Was the content legally protected?
- Was there copyright infringement?
- Is there a possibility that this will spiral into a bigger issue?
2. Own the Mistake
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to social media mistakes.While you can correct them, you can’t control how those affected will react.The best you can do in any situation is to fess up immediately. Whether offline or online, honesty is always the best policy.Don’t do what Chrysler did when someone with access to their account sent out this tweet:
Rather than come clean that someone within the company had sent the tweet, they first claimed their account was compromised.Dumb.If you’ve made an error, own it and don’t waste time letting everyone know. The longer you wait, the worse the situation becomes and the less authentic your apology will look.
Take this course of action:
- Notify all required parties within your company
- Admit your mistake
- Correct the error
- Move on
After all, we’re only human. Mistakes will happen.You can only hope your fans and followers will be gracious in accepting your apology.If not, it's time to press forward and know that mistakes only make you stronger (and better).
3. Create Your Company Policy
The positive outcome in any negative situation is the lesson learned. That lesson is how to best handle it next time.Whether you’re a solopreneur, local business or brand, having a social media policy in place is critical.Not only does it create a communication hierarchy, but also a systematic way to handle any issue, no matter how big or small.The goal is to put together a make-sense policy that any employee can easily follow. This will serve as a roadmap, offering guidance during a temporary lapse in judgment or social media crisis.
Steps to Creating a Social Media Policy
If you have employees, you must first determine what’s allowed and what’s not when it comes to social media. Be specific with your statements.Examples:
- Prohibited social media conduct includes posting defamatory comments, pornographic images, proprietary content, or harassing statements
- No exclusive or confidential company information may be posted without prior approval from senior management
- Images may not be shared if you do not have copyright or ownership over the graphic
If you’re the only employee, this process will be slightly easier. However, take the same steps no matter the size of your company. It’s important to spell out what is allowed and how you will handle any negative situation.Getting crystal clear on what you will tolerate and unacceptable on social media might save you from a situation similar to Kenneth Cole when a tweet attempted to use the Syrian conflict to sell shoes.
"Boots on the ground" or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear— Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) September 5, 2013
Yikes! Did someone actually approve that tweet?If so, it better align with their mission, vision and values.
You now need to determine what the consequences will be for violation of the policy. Spell this out in no uncertain terms.
Now it's time to clearly communicate your policy with all employees or anyone affected by the new guidelines.
When sharing your social media strategy, make sure to express:
- What company information can be shared?
- Offer examples and state what type of content or details must receive prior approval.
- What language is acceptable?
- How to support the current company social media strategy.
- How your employees can use company logos and additional branded content, such as registered trademarks.
The bottom line?Always know your limitations and share your expectations. They can save you from a lot of heartache and a messy situation.
Tell me! What's the worst social media fail you've ever seen?
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.