Online brands are managed by human beings. Human being make mistake – often. Social media mistakes can be handled one of two ways:
- One which avoids discussion and makes things worse
- One which admits errors and makes things better
It may sound like the choice is simple, yet brands continue to make the wrong decision over and over again.
For numerous examples, see this post on the Biggest Social Media Fails of 2013. Some examples will have you in complete understanding of the approach taken and feel bad for the unfortunate outcomes…others will have you scratching your head raw in bewilderment.
How to turn a social media mistake into a success
You may have a fancy social media command center, a multi-faceted Hootesuite account and a team of highly trained brand ambassadors, but every now and then a mistake will be made. Plan on it and make a plan that will work once it happens.
What sort of plan? Here is one that is guaranteed to fail: deny anything happened, say you were hacked and lie lie lie until your pants literally catch on fire due to some sort of friction build up from running back and forth between computers to type these lies up.
An example of a social media mistake made right
A better plan is to admit you made a mistake, explain what happened and maybe make a joke – like an actual human would do. To provide a well known example, you can read over on the Dogfish.com blog about a tweet that the American Red Cross sent out:
You can guess that talking about beer, and “gettin’ slizzered,” was not part of the social media plan for the American Red Cross – they’re more about raising awareness for blood donation, and blood is no good to them when it has alcohol content.
What the Red Cross did was remove the tweet, apologize on Twitter to their followers and offer the facts about what actually happened on their blog – it simply was meant to come from a personal account due to a Hootsuite error. Best of all, they made a joke and folks had a laugh.
We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys.
— American Red Cross (@RedCross) February 16, 2011
What they got from this was something that no amount of lies and fake hacker claims could accomplish. First, they got the support of their community. Second, Dogfish Beer took the #gettingslizzered hashtag and put it up on their own Twitter account.
Soon after, their fans and people within the craft beer community were using it to promote donating blood or money to the Red Cross. They went from social media mistake to social media win pretty quickly. All it tok was being honest.
Related Post: Twitter Hacking on the Rise
That’s not the best of it, on the Dogfish blog they spoke with Wendy Harman at the American Red Cross about whether or not someone lost their job over it, her response was timeless and indicative of the attitude you need to have:
“Listen, we deal with huge, natural disasters all the time…this really isn’t that huge.”
Everyone won, and all it took was the truth.
Your social media mistake plan
You may not get the same level of awareness and recognition over your mistake, but you can certainly make things right for your followers by being honest with them. Acquiring new followers is a hell of a lot more difficult than just keeping your current ones happy and spreading your message. A major marketing gaff like this, where you try to lie you way out of a social media mistake, will always make things worse.
Deception and lies use to be a major component of marketing. Social media marketing, where you give control over to your followers and fans is not such a marketing avenue. Your honesty and ability to speak with them as people is where your success lies.