Social Media Disaster Survival Guide

by | Sep 15, 2011 | At Checkerboard, Integrated Marketing, Social Media | 0 comments

Managing social media profiles for your company or brand is a must in today’s business world. But having enough social savvy to run your company’s social accounts probably means you also have a personal account, which leads to opportunities to mis-post. With Facebook utilizing your personal account to sign onto to your business page and Twitter’s “keep me signed in” feature, posting something personal (or just all-around disastrous) onto your business account is a consistent job hazard.

If a social media disaster should happen to your brand there is a simple mantra to follow:

  1. Be Quick

  2. Be Honest

  3. Be Humble

Deal with any mistakes as soon as they are brought to your attention because waiting even a few hours to apologize gives the situation an air of insensitivity. Telling your audience the honest truth about what occurred, or what your intention was, is the most genuine and respectful way to clean it up. Lastly, be humble about your audience’s anger or laughter at your expense. Trying to tell them that the mistake wasn’t so bad or that you are technically in the right about what you stated, won’t win you many fans.

Bad grammar, spelling, incorrect links or posting personal statuses can all be quickly dealt with by providing an explanation and correction, and laughing at yourself if you are able. Typos that become offensive, inappropriate opinions and insensitive statements will take a bit more explanation and an apology as you can expect your audience to be offended. AVOID being sarcastic or humorous at all costs.

Releasing announcements too early can be joked about or seen as a bonus to your audience, although you may be in some hot water back at the office. False rewards can be tricky since it depends on what part of the reward you can’t own up to. Did you Tweet $1,000 for the reward when you meant to say $100? Has your brand run out of prizes? Explain, apologize, and offer something else if you can such as a discount or future contest.

The account hack can be the most dangerous disaster but the easiest to clean up. Explain the account has been hacked and apologize for whatever was posted, then bring in a professional to secure your account settings! While your audience may forgive what happened, the worst aftermath of a hacker is the possibility of it happening again.

Best practice for social media disasters is to have a long history of respect, accuracy and correctness to back up your brand. Don’t be afraid to show that you have a team of brand ambassadors working to amend the mistake because it humanizes the company and connects with your audience. And if possible, don’t take it too seriously. Someone representing the American Red Cross accidently tweeted about finding a certain brand of beer and was going to be “getting slizzered”, a phrase created to rhyme with blizzard that means a state of high intoxication, made popular from the rap song Like a G6 by Far East Movement.

To clean up the error, the Red Cross tweeted that this was a huge mistake and “the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” Acknowledgement, apology, humor and even sneaking in a message about safe driving were key in turning that disaster into a funny moment. Better yet the beer brand that was named, Dogfish Head, jumped on the opportunity by asking its fans to donate to the Red Cross by providing a link and using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. What better way to end the day than turning a social media disaster into a laugh for your audience and an opportunity to do something good!?

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