We’ve all had it happen in life, that unfortunate situation that leaves you embarrassed beyond belief. When a blunder happens in social media it can hang around forever and cause you to want to delete all your accounts and throw in the towel. However, this is the wrong approach. So how can you recover from a social media blunder? Well that really depends on the severity of the incident but here’s my advice – own up to it! Take full ownership of the mistake and have some fun with it.
Social Media Is About Being Human
If you are absolutely perfect and have never made a simple mistake take a bow and stop reading, this article is for the rest of the real world. How many times have you sent an email and cc’d the wrong person. Had a typo that went out in a very important document? Spelled some ones name wrong. Forgot to invite the most important person to a meeting? Any of these sound familiar? These are all things that happen in the real world but social media mistakes are very visible and usually involve things like misspellings, improper formats, and the worst of all ignoring a customer’s question or complaint or accidentally insulting a customer.
The social media crowd is not exactly known for being forgiving, especially when you make newbie mistakes, but with a little effort and humility it can be done. Here are a few suggestions on how to recover from your faux pas!
#1: Asses the severity of the situation and react accordingly. If you have simply made a typo, it’s not really the end of life as you know it. If you have just created a firestorm of complaints because you have insulted an individual or a group you should budget for a much larger recovery plan.
In this example @JustineSacco, a former New Your City PR executive sent this tweet prior to boarding a flight and was fired upon landing. Yes, she actually lost her job, rightly so I may add within hours of making this social media blunder. Think before you type. There is absolutely no excuse for this type of behavior and no easy way to recover from an incident of this nature.
It happened to one of our own team members just last week. She shared one of our articles on LinkedIn and introduced a typo in the title of her post. Social media is all about sharing and there are times that people other than your representatives can introduce problems that can still make your company look bad.
#2: Take a deep breath and try not to panic. Often times a knee jerk reaction can add fuel to the fire. Think through your plan before you start typing away. Your solution should be in line with the actual problem. Overreacting can lead to a negative perception even worse than the original offense.
#3: Own up to your mistake! Never try to sweep it under the rug. Don’t be afraid to be human, in fact this makes you more relatable. Odds are people will understand that mistakes happen if you are honest and sincere.
#4: Get out in front of the situation as quickly as possible before people have a chance to stew about the offense. The more moment that builds surrounding a problem the more impact it can have. Of course it is better to avoid having a problem in the first place but once a issue has been identified take swift action.
#5: Correct the error or problem as soon as possible. Here are some scenarios, if you have discovered a typo in a post update your post immediately. If you have a problem with an image the same rule applies. If you notice negative feedback on an ad or campaign pause it until you can evaluate the situation.
#6: Be gracious and thank the person who brought the problem to your attention. Your first instinct may be to hide in a closet and never look at the internet again however that may be the worst thing you can do. Reach out to the person who discovered the problem and make them a hero. They may end up to be your best advocate over time.
#7: Blast away your apologies far and wide. Social media is always about establishing relationships. Being human means you will most likely make a mistake at some point but apologizing for the mistake can win back points.
#8: Have a sense of humor if it’s appropriate. People like the fact that you can make light of an unfortunate situation. It means you are taking responsibility for it, if it’s a blunder and not a total disaster. I recommend this only if it really can be made into a laughing matter. If you have just offended the entire Mommy population of the world like Motrin did a few years back there is absolutely no place for humor to enter the recovery plan.
These typo’s from JCPenney over the SuperBowl were actually a campaign which people responded to nicely in the end when it was revealed that they were tweeting with gloves and not really ‘Drunk’ as many people assumed.
#9: Ask for input! Odds are you are not the only one in the universe who has made the mistake. People love to be part of the solution. If you ask how they would like the situation handled they are now participating in the resolution.
#10: Handle negative comments with grace and dignity. Don’t discount some ones feedback just because it’s negative, take it to heart. Social works best if you listen and then respond. Don’t assume you are the best thing ever invented. Listen to your audience if they have something negative to say you must respect their opinion and apply some improvements or risk alienation on social media forever.
The biggest take away from any social media mishap should be to learn from your mistakes. Share your lessons with your entire staff to ensure that it never happens again. Establish standards by creating a social media post guideline which should cover some of your style guidelines. Make sure that you have a routine for double checking copy for typo’s or sensitive content that is reviewed by more than one member of your team.
We hope you have enjoyed this post. Let us know what your experience has been by commenting about your own social media blunder.