By Maggie Schneider Huston-Oracle on May 08, 2015
Face facts: we’re humans. We make mistakes. Here’s how to recover (and prevent) social media mistakes.
First things first - take a deep breath. You probably made the mistake in the first place by going too fast. Slow down. Don’t compound the mistake by reacting impulsively.
Acknowledge it - publicly, clearly, and honestly
This is not the time to exercise your pre-law degree. We know what the definition of “is,” is, thank you very much. Be clear about your mistake, and apologize sincerely. Be candid with your readers about what went wrong. Pre-scheduled tweet take on a new meaning in light of breaking news? Social Media Manager accidentally mix up their personal and professional profiles? An attempted joke fall painfully flat? Hacked? Explain. It’s always best to be honest with your readers. It builds trust and reminds them of your humanity, too.
Fix it - and follow up on it
If it’s a systemic problem (for example, a prescheduled tweet gone awry) give your readers an action plan on what you’ll do to prevent this in the future. If it’s an employee gone rogue, it may be appropriate to mention the disciplinary action that was taken, and steps that you’ll take in the future to prevent this type of mistake.
General Guidelines to Avoid a Derpy Situation
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold. Follow these rules to help stay employed.
Don’t jump on the bandwagon
#RoyalBaby is trending? That’s nice. Unless you’re selling baby products, there’s really no reason for you to chime in on this conversation. It’s obvious pandering, and it can really only hurt you. In that same vein, research your hashtags. For example, #LetsDoThis is associated with a twitter party, an encouragement tweet, and a picture of a dog in a sports jersey. #BeSmart
Be careful with your puns
You may crack yourself up, but you also might be offending a lot of people. Remember - sarcasm doesn’t have a special font (much to our chagrin) so readers may not understand what you’re trying to say.
Cinco de Mayo is a good example. Many brands thought it would be cute to use “Juan” instead of the word “one” in their posts. To some, it’s cute. To others, it’s racist. Avoid questionable racism whenever possible.
Proofread, proof-read, proof read. Do you know which version is correct? (It’s one word, no hyphen, for those playing along at home.) Read your posts out loud - it’s a great way to catch any mistakes.