How To Prepare For and React To A Social Media Mistake

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Social media can be a valuable resource for marketing your business. Unlike many traditional marketing channels – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social platforms allow you to communicate with your customers and analyze their feedback in real time.

Unfortunately, there can be a downside to this. The “instant connection” with consumers creates a greater risk of making mistakes that can damage your brand. For example, an employee or third party community manager could forget to log out of the corporate account and post personal information, or information intended for another site by mistake. A mistake like this can go against your brand’s image and adversely affect the public’s perception of your company.
social media crisis

photo credit: Sybren A. Stüvel
Part of managing your company’s’ social media accounts should include knowing how to respond to, and bounce back from social media public relations disasters. Doing damage control and apologizing for the error are only part of the recovery process. Below are some tips that can help you minimize the effects of a social media mistake.

Establish A Social Media Policy
Have an established social media policy. It’s important that employees and vendors who work for you and represent your company online understand what is acceptable to post online and what is not.

Enact a Social Media Crisis Communications Plan
Have an established Social Media Crisis Communications plan in place. In the midst of a crisis is not a good place to begin crafting this. Your plan should include a method for instant communication among all critical stakeholders. The mobile application GroupMe is perfect for this and is used by many businesses.

Have Administrative Access
Most social networks allow multiple users to have administrative access, so you and your entire staff can update the business account. According to the Miami Herald, having consistent access to a profile is extremely important for crisis management. If fans and followers start messaging you with critical comments over an offensive post, you should log on immediately to begin implementing your crisis plan and minimizing the impact.

Always ensure that you have the highest administrative rights to revoke access to employees or third parties that have access to your social platforms. This is critical – if you’ve got a disgruntled employee writing offensive posts that could affect your brand, you must be able to shut that person out and contain the damage immediately.

Don’t Have a Knee-jerk Reaction
A thoughtful, well-crafted response is better than a quick knee-jerk reaction. Many times businesses are not prepared to handle a social media mistake and they only exacerbate the situation by responding quickly and inappropriately. Its better to take an extra moment to deliver a carefully worded, and measured response to your community.

Don’t hide the mistake
Even the most savvy social media marketers can occasionally make mistakes. The worst mistake however; is acting like there was no mistake at all.
Whether you, or whoever is in charge of your account, made an offensive comment or post, criticized a customer, or something else, you need to accept responsibility. Deleting the message is important for damage control, but you’ll hurt your reputation by acting as if nothing happened. Followers share updates and take screenshots of posts so there will always be a record of what was on your profile. Winston Bao Lord, president of Venga, told the American Express OPEN Forum that the best decision is to own your mistake.

“It’s coming clean and ponying up to anything you might be responsible for,” Lord said.

Don’t attempt to argue with your community that the mistake wasn’t that bad, or that you’re right, or misunderstood. Its best to own up to the mistake and move forward. Debating the mistake only keeps it fresh in the mind of your audience and could further alienate additional members of your community.

Acknowledge what transpired and that you understand why your followers are upset. Apologize sincerely and tell customers that you regret your actions. This shows that your business is responsible and cares about its clients enough to empathize with their feelings.

Rebuild your image
Your brand can survive a social media disaster, many have, but it may be an extensive process and at the very least, take time. After a mistake and some bad press, you may have to overhaul your business image to disassociate yourself from the negative faux paus. It may seem drastic to revamp your entire image, but depending on the severity of the issue,  it’s sometimes a necessary step in the recovery effort.

These are only some of the steps a business can take to recover from a social media snafu. Has your company had any problems online? If so, how did you recover?

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Martin Jones
Martin Jones is Social Media Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution across each of the company’s social media platforms. Today, over 500k fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube and Google+. His career has been characterized by his ability to work with groups, individuals and businesses to uncover, optimize and implement digital marketing strategies and tactics that propel them past their competition. Thoughts expressed here are his own.
Martin Jones

@martinjonesaz

Leader in #socialmedia & #contentmarketing Strategy & Promotion - Writer, Speaker, - E-content Mag Top 50 - Sr. Marketing Mgr. @CoxComm - Host #IgniteChat
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Martin Jones
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