Social media disasters — What you shouldn’t do

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disaster feed
A Fourth of July fireworks twitter feed: but this was actually an image of the Challenger disaster
disaster feed
A Fourth of July fireworks twitter feed: but this was actually an image of the Challenger disaster

Patrick King reminds us in an insightful blog posting that there are some exceptional risks with social media marketing. The normal checks and balances of caution and prudence sometimes (often) need to go out the window when you are communicating rapidly in the social media context; and the errors can be magnified with sloppy responses.

I don’t think any of us would find it necessary to post a fourth of July fireworks image — with a screenshot of the Challenger disaster as an example of a wonderful fireworks display. But someone American Apparel did.

The problem occurs when you mishandle the response.

Their response: the person managing their social media isn’t from this country and was born after the Challenger disaster. Was it an appropriate reaction? I’ll let the public judge that.

King observes you should have a system/plan in place to quickly recover from social media blunders.  I’ll let you read his blog for the positive approaches to take, but (in the rational and human focus on the negative here), will remind you of his suggestions about what not to do:

  1. Deflect responsibility for the offense. There’s a huge difference between “I’m sorry that I offended you” and “I’m sorry that you felt offended.”
  2. Try to cover up the mistake with a lie. Anthony Weiner originally told people his Twitter account had been hacked. I think we all know how that worked out for him.
  3. Pretend it didn’t happen. If your gaffe was controversial, I can promise you someone took a screen snapshot of it and will be happy to
  4. Wait a few days and “see if it will blow over.”  Trust us, it won’t.
  5. Try to be funny, clever, or witty. There’s a time and a place for those things, but this isn’t it.  This is a time for sincerity.

Yea, businesses make these mistakes.  Don’t do these blunderous thing, or you’ll risk feeling the pain and wrath that occurs when you pour oil onto water.

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