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How to Avoid Social Media Disasters in Your Business

Posted Feb 26 2013 7:00am

One of the hardest things for a social media manager to deal with is the fallout from some kind of social media disaster.  The cost in finances, time, and energy is simply huge!  And the damage done to a brand is long lasting – maybe even permanent, in some cases!

Thankfully, believe it or not, such disasters aren’t inevitable!  You can choose to avoid them if you use a little bit of thought and planning (and you can be ready to respond in the unfortunate event that you have an “issue” that needs addressing). 

3 Tips for Avoiding a Social Media Catastrophe

1.     Be authentic

One of the easiest ways for a brand to avoid social media disasters is simply to be authentic.  If you’ve read my blog, heard me speak or chatted in my Google+ community, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of authenticity.  And it’s only going to get more important; just saying! 

The biggest social media disasters happen when a brand isn’t authentic.  This kind of inauthentic content might be when the brand’s values doesn’t match up with its message or behavior on social media. It also can happen when the company’s response to a customer’s concerns isn’t reflective of the seriousness of the situation.

In a very tragic situation last year, Progressive Insurance had one of its insured drivers involved in a fatal accident.  In the aftermath, many members of the general public – customers of Progressive and non-customers alike didn’t think the company was responding in a positive manner, and they used Twitter to say so. Progressive’s response was to create an automated message tweeted back to those customers. And let me tell you, nothing says “we don’t care” like a company saying “We’re so sorry” in an automated tweet, over and over, to customers who were clearly angry over the company’s actions. 

Make sure that your social media activity matches up to what you say your company stands for and that it also reflects the reality of the situation, whatever it is. 

2.     Have a social media plan

Having a plan is a necessary part of having a social media business that thrives and doesn’t run you ragged.  But it’s also a great way to make sure you avoid a social media disaster.  Why?  Because if you plan your content ahead of time, you have the luxury of looking at it more than once.  You can make sure your message is on target, authentic, and that you haven’t made any mistakes that you’ll regret.  If possible, it helps to have someone else review it as well – I don’t know about you, but proofreading my own work is a sure recipe for at least one mistake to make it through. We’re too close to our own work to read it neutrally.

3.     Stay involved with your social media

With the speed of social, this is critical.   You’ve got to monitor and respond relentlessly.  If there’s a negative comment about your brand, you need to be able to respond promptly.   And promptly means “today,” and preferably “within moments,” in the world of social media.  Set up an alert so you know if your brand has been mentioned, no matter whether in a good way or a bad way, and follow up promptly and professionally.

What’s your plan to prevent social media disasters?  Leave a response – I’d love to hear!

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