Handling a Social Media Mistake

SEPT_2014_OOPSWe’d all love it if social media were a positive place, where cat videos, news, and brand marketing could peacefully coexist. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Equally unfortunate is the fact that if you make a mistake on social media, it’s impossible for it to escape unnoticed. Unless you don’t have a big fan base, which is another problem, for another blog.

For example, you posted a major announcement on Facebook. Could have been about a giveaway, a deal, or a new product launch. But for whatever reason lines were crossed, mistakes were made, and the post is dead wrong. Now what?

Here are our tried-and-true steps for mitigating a social crisis:

Do not remove the post right away. The worst possible thing you could do in this situation is to take the post down as if it never happened. We can guarantee you that the people who saw and trusted the information will notice, and they will lash out. As much as you might want to, you can’t quietly erase your mistake.

Do not respond to negative comments. They will come in. And they may hurt. But you don’t want to respond individually. It will feed the fire. Wait on responding until you…

Create an apology post. We don’t often like to admit when we’ve made a mistake, but in this case you have to. Because social media is so public, you must have authenticity and honesty or you will lose fans. Own up to your mistake and apologize for the inconvenience it may have caused. Now you can respond to the comments. There may be anger, but the overall sentiment will be understanding.

Thank your fans. In each response, express your gratitude for the understanding of your fans. And give them something back. Offer a new deal, a discount, or a giveaway. Make them feel good about supporting you. They’ll tell their friends about your responsiveness and great customer services. And the lingering feelings they have about your initial mistake will be positive.