When Social Media Goes Wrong – How to Prevent Mistakes

July 25, 2014 0 By Koehler Home Decor

social-media-fail1Social media marketing, when done right, can be a truly effective traffic driver and a great way to engage with customers old and new. Done wrong however it can be a reputation killer. Social media horror stories pop up all the time, and yet it seems that many people are still not paying attention to the lessons that can be learned from other’s unfortunate mistakes.

Social Media is Your Brand’s Voice

Because its use is so commonplace these days, in many consumers minds a company’s social media presence is its official ‘voice’. So gone are the days when, if they had an issue or complaint, a customer would pick up a phone, dial a 1-800 number and then ensure a frustrating wait that may or may not have resulted in their issue being solved.

Instead, now they pick up their smartphone and send the company a tweet, or make a Facebook comment. Because they now equate your social media accounts to your ‘official’ presence they expect a response via these channels instead. It is for this reason that you must ensure that your social media interactions have a ‘voice’ that really does represent your brand.

For example, the CIA recently joined Twitter. In a move that some might say is unusual for a government agency they nailed the social media thing with their very first tweet, setting the tone for the page perfectly:

By the same token if you get the voice wrong it can have the opposite effect. For example, we all know what Pepto Bismol is for (we all have in in the medicine cabinet) so when this rather crude tweet went out the response was mainly one of disgust, along with more than a few critical comments about the misplaced punctuation:

Did Pepto mean to offend and upset in that way? No, but that one tweet tarnished their image, if only slightly, for weeks afterwards.

If you have someone else post your social updates because you are too busy to do so that’s OK. Just make sure they understand your brand’s voice before you let them loose on your accounts.

Don’t Newsjack for the Sake of It

Newsjacking – the practice of using a trending hashtag or topic to gain visibility for your own brand – is becoming more and more commonplace. And it can be effective, but only if it makes sense. It can also produce a huge backlash of anger and resentment. For instance, AT & T tweeted the following image out last September 11th.


While their intention was good, the reaction to a big company (or any company) seeming to use such a solemn occasion a a marketing opportunity was swift and passionate:

AT & T did apologize, but again, not before the damage was done. If you are going to newsjack, make sure that your tweet/post is relevant and respectable or don’t bother at all.

Use the Right Content for the Right Media

The marketing budget a smaller company has to work with is usually pretty tight. But reusing content on the wrong platforms can prove disastrous. For example, reusing this online ad in the local newspaper may have saved this New Zealand realty firm a few dollars but just how DO you click on a newspaper page?


You also need to be careful when using the same post across different social media channels. When the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley’s social media team posted this update to Instagram it sounded great:


However, instead of writing a new update for Twitter someone just copy/pasted the Instagram missive (or used the ‘send to all’ feature in Hootsuite) and, having forgotten the 140 character limit on that platform, sent out a message that was far less positive, not to mention embarrassing for Mrs Haley when all the journalists who use Twitter picked up on it far faster than her team could delete it:


Make sure that anyone posting to your social media accounts understands the limitations and differences between each of them and, whenever possible, craft a different message for each social network even though the subject matter may be the same.

What to Do if You Mess Up

If you do send a ‘bad post’ you will basically have two choices; delete it asap and never mention it again or apologize and try to set things right. Except it is not really a choice. The latter move is always the right one. People will appreciate it and, in time, will often be willing to forgive, forget and move on.

Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.

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