Brands: Avoid Social Media Regret with These Five Tips

Sep 26, 2014 Christine Lewis

Everyone has that person in their social media feed, the one who is constantly posting about how much he/she hates her boss or how awful the company in general is. As a PR professional, I cringe every time I see this because I know that brands can and do “listen” to these conversations on social media and these posts should be against their company social media policies (if they have one). In fact, a recent study by found that 29 percent of adults ranging from 18-34 are fearful that something that they post on social media could compromise their current or future job prospects.

But what happens when it’s not the employees who are behaving inappropriately on social media but the actual brands themselves? When brands create cringe-worthy moments on social media, users can quickly activate like-minded people against these brands. The more absurd or ironic the blunder, the better. Here are five tips to help brands avoid feeling social media regret:

  1. Have a social media escalation plan in place to help protect your brand’s reputation should a crisis occur. Social media can be a powerful tool when a crisis arises to help manage the issue and control the message, or it can be a brand’s worst enemy when the company behaves in a way that repels customers by being defensive, lacking transparency, or even being just plain cold. Having a clear plan in place with guidelines and best practices can help to avoid turning off users on social media. For guidelines on how brands should behave when tragedy strikes, check out Tina Cassidy’s blog post.
  2. Read and understand a trending hashtag before jumping into the conversation. DiGiorno recently used #WhyIStayed, a conversation centered on why people stay with abusive partners, in a light-hearted tweet about pizza. Needless to say, users were appalled, causing DiGiorno to not only delete the tweet, but to also issue an explanation stating that they did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.
  3. Use separate apps for your personal and work accounts to avoid accidental personal posts on corporate pages.  Who can forget the whoops moment the American Red Cross experienced a few years ago when a post about #gettingslizzerd was accidentally pushed out? Don’t let this be you.
  4. Publicly acknowledge all customer complaints. It may be tempting to ignore criticisms that come your brand’s way on social media in hopes that the issue will fade but this is never a smart approach. Social media is fast-paced and customers who are voicing issues on these platforms expect an immediate response (and will complain louder when issues are not acknowledged). It’s true that some customers will be unsatisfied no matter how much you offer to alleviate the situation, but putting your best effort forward to remedy the issue will always reflect better on your company than not acknowledging them at all. And furthermore, make sure not to push out automated, template responses. Users will notice this and they will call you out on it. Show that the company is run by humans, not robots.
  5. Establish a corporate social media policy that is re-evaluated every six months and communicate it clearly with employees. Not only is it crucial to have a company’s top executives representing the company professionally and appropriately on social media, but all employees should know what the rules of engagement are for discussing corporate and industry issues on social media.

Have you experienced problems in the past with employees using social media? Consider following in the footsteps of the New York Police Department (NYPD). After a series of gaffes, it was announced this week that it will be sending its officers to Twitter school. What are some additional tips that you have to help brands avoid social media regret?



Topics: InkHouse, Twitter, Facebook, Social Media
Christine Lewis

Christine is an account director at InkHouse.

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