Dangers Still Ahead (Social Faux Pas) – Pt. 2


On Monday we talked about the first of 6 major social media faux pas and how to avoid/rectify them if you or your brand happens to come across them. The ones we covered on Monday were:

  • A mistake by an individual employee
  • A Customer Service #Fail
  • A Vicious Campaign

Since that post ran a little longer than normal, today we’re just going to jump into the remaining three, which are:

  • Social Media Faux Pas
  • Organizational Party Foul
  • Internal Meltdown

Let’s get to it!

4. Grand Social Fail

By title alone, this one seems similar to the first faux pas (individual F-up), but this revolves more around simply trying something and it falling flat. Maybe you didn’t reach the right audience or your campaign felt too “pitch-y”. We aren’t all perfect and this type of mistake is going to happen to every department that seriously steps into the social media arena.

The nice thing about social media though is that after a flub like this, you aren’t necessarily out hundreds of thousands of dollars and you have the ability to try again relatively quickly, if you act smart and quick. Here are some tips:

  1. Understand Your Mistake – This is an important first step because there’s a big difference between falling flat on your face and just angering part of the online world. You aren’t going to be able to make everyone happy with every campaign you do. Make sure you understand which parts of your campaign were mistakes, or if they were mistakes at all that need correcting.
  2. Take Ownership of your Flub – The Internet is a very forgiving place, but if you stubbornly stand by your lapse in judgement like a mule, you’ll make more enemies than friends. It takes a big company to honestly come out and say, “Yeah, we messed up and we’re sorry,” and for the most part, people will forgive you. Depending on the severity of your lapse (*cough* *cough* Kenneth Cole *cough* *cough*).
  3. Share What You Learned – The final step after owning up to your flub is sharing openly what you learned from the experience. If you follow up your apology with, “…and due to this we will no longer be _________” you’ll impress a lot of people.

Social media is so new that mistakes are inevitable, but how you handle missteps in judgement will go a long way to putting trust capital back in your public bank with your customers so you have the freedom to try again.

5. Organizational Party Foul

Every now and then a company will come out with something or do something that sends a ripple of “What the F@&% where they thinking?” throughout the Internet.

Remember when Gap came out with their “new and improved logo”? How about more recently when the Susan G Komen Foundation announced they would stop funding Planned Parenthood? Or maybe you remember hearing something about a little bill called SOPA.

Hopefully you don’t find yourself in this type of situation, but it’s a possibility, so we’ll talk a little about it here.

  1. Once Again, Admit Your Mistake – Just like last time, when your’e wrong, admit you’re wrong. No one respects a brand that stands firm in their conviction to a crappy idea. Gap made their situation worse by not admitting their  mistake til days later, which leads up to the next tip…
  2. Speed is King – The speed at which you respond openly needs to be directly proportional to the degree by which you mess up. The bigger the goof, the faster your response needs to be. You should be running towards the controversy head on with your hose read to put out those fires. This isn’t the time to sit in meetings for 3 weeks to decide the proper wording of the press release.
  3. Fix Things – You’ve messed up big, take the time to fix the core issues that caused that kind of misstep.

And finally…

6. Internal Meltdown

Enron, GM and others can tell you deep stories about what it’s like to have a public internal meltdown. Nothing looks harsher on your organization than something that looks bad on the news that the public can’t truly see or understand. Granted, GM wasn’t in a similar situation to Enron because they’re actions were’t horrible, but I just pulled out the two biggest company meltdowns I could remember from recent history.

Hopefully this won’t ever be a situation you’re in, but if you find yourself in a situation you can’t control, keep these things in mind:

  1. Give Social Media A Strong Voice – Your customers are going to be confused as crap, you be completely open (with regards to what you legally can) and communicate thoroughly with those asking you questions. The longer people are in the dark, the harder their trust will be to get back.
  2. Listen, Listen, Listen – You may not have all the answers to everything, but if you show you’re listening and and answer where you can, that conversation will stay open. Keep those (digital) ears open.
  3. Make It A Community Experience – If you’ve built up any sort of community capital, your internal meltdown will be felt by your loyal customers as well. They’ll want to help (if they can) and will be feeling stress alongside you. Allow others into your world and when possible, lean on the support of your community.

Okay, that about wraps up the major faux pas. We’ve delved in pretty deep this week, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. These issues are never fun to talk about and even less fun to deal with, but it’s important knowledge to have beforehand.

As they say, sometimes the best defense is a good understanding of your offense.


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4 Responses to Dangers Still Ahead (Social Faux Pas) – Pt. 2
  1. [...] Dangers Still Ahead (Social Faux Pas) – Pt. 2 « Trying Not To Suck It Up (Social Media Faux Pas) – Pt. 1 [...]

  2. [...] Dangers Still Ahead (Social Faux Pas) – Pt. 2 [...]

  3. Chris Sohar

    Interesting stuff. In life as in social media it is always wise to admit your mistakes, don’t make excuses and try to remedy any hard feelings you have created along the way. Thank you it is always good to see these things from a different perspective.

  4. JugnooMe

    Great thoughts, Chris. A little bit of humility is always respected.

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