The digital world is sometimes referred to as the Wild, Wild West. It’s uncharted land that’s still being explored as more people begin to live, work and play there. Social media networks are like the urban areas with large concentrations of people and companies all working to understand how to exist in this new environment.
While we all try figure out how to best navigate this new world of social media, we will make mistakes. It’s tough to do something perfectly while you’re learning how to do it. However, when mistakes happen, it’s important that they’re handled well. The key is remembering that the common thread is our ability to communicate. Being dishonest or putting your head in the sand to hide from the mistake isn’t the way to go.
Let’s look at some social media mistakes from recent years where communication was used effectively:
- United Airlines and the NSFW (not safe for work) picture
Someone on the social media team for United Airlines responded to a customer tweet and mistakenly attached a photo of a woman that was not family friendly. The tweet was removed, and United Airlines issued an apology along with an explanation for the image. That didn’t stop the story from going viral, but the company handled it head on, which was good.
- Home Depot and the offensive game day tweet
In a tweet promoting an upcoming college football game, a picture was shared on Home Depot’s Twitter feed that offended many people. Home Depot responded by removing the tweet, issuing an apology and firing the social media agency that was handling the account at the time.
- KitchenAid’s negative political tweet
During the 2012 election season, a member of Kitchen Aid’s social media team shared something disparaging about President Obama’s grandmother on the company’s Twitter feed. The company quickly took the tweet down, apologized and removed the person from their social media team.
Social media mistakes can be embarrassing, but the key is to move swiftly and definitively to apologize while being open and honest. You can’t hide from social media, but you can address it head on. Knowing what mistakes not to make is important, but knowing how to bounce back once you’ve made one is just as valuable.
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