Oops! 5 Tips for Dealing with Business Mistakes on the Social Media Stage

April 29, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

statue of man holding his face“My Biggest Mistake.” That is the headline of a series of online articles I recently saw on LinkedIn.  The entries that comprise the posts are offered by some of the biggest names in business, making clear that mistakes happen to EVERYONE.  The gist of each is that we can overcome, just as these big business persons did, IF we know how to handle the problematic situations we accidentally created.

The first thing we need to remember is social media is instantaneous.  We lose control over our postings literally as soon as we click the “post” button.  So we always, ALWAYS must double check what we have written before sending it to our sites.  Of course, spelling and grammar are important.   But we also need to check our passages for proper word usage.  And tricky as this may be, we must use our best objective judgment to look for the potential that the way we worded our thoughts could be misconstrued. Many unexpected issues occur because we didn’t stop to think how something we posted with good intentions might be misunderstood. Finally, we also must make sure our messages are about to be sent to their intended destinations.

Should the unthinkable happen – and it may sooner or later, because we ALL make mistakes – here are a few guidelines to help smooth ruffled feathers among our followers:

1. Own up to our errors.  It might surprise us to discover how forgiving our disgruntled followers can be when we step up and claim responsibility for our mistakes.

2. Take a moment before typing our mea culpa messages in order to make sure we craft our apologies clearly and with genuine sincerity.  Our fans can spot phony remorse a mile away; trying to “pull one over on them” will only make a bad situation worse.  Recently a big name company tweeted something wildly inappropriate after a major tragedy. That was bad; when they responded to scores of complaining followers with the same bland blanket apology it made their initial mistake exponentially worse!  They were still getting bad press more than a week after the tragic event.

3. Do NOT delete angry comments!  This action will be viewed as dismissing the feelings of our followers, and will more than likely cause even more to be posted – including across different social media platforms that we may not be able to track quickly. The negative comments may sting, but they also offer the best chance of turning our negatives into positives.  We need instead to demonstrate our genuine remorse by owning up to our mistakes and responding with sincere apologies to our disgruntled followers.

4. As much as those negative comments may sting, we must not become defensive or escalate the situation by fighting back.  We did the crime; we need to do the time.  Any other response from us will turn our bad situations into much bigger events.

5. After apologizing, we need to move on.  There is no reason to dwell upon our mistakes.  Everyone makes them, after all.  And since we aren’t perfect beings there’s a chance these may not be our last errors. The best we can do is resolve to try our hardest not to repeat the mistakes we made, and make every effort to watch how we act and what we post going forward.

What additional tips can you offer to help us deal with mistakes in our businesses?  Please share them so we may all learn from each other!

oops graphic with sad face as second o

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