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How to Avoid a Social Media Disaster

You have undoubtedly heard stories of social media disasters and backlashes. Hopefully you’ve never experienced one first hand. For social media marketers, this ranks fairly high atop the “Worst Case Scenarios” list. Yet sometimes, without much understanding of why, they happen. Social Media is somewhat of an unpredictable animal. Sometimes, we post or share things that we ourselves find harmless and well-intended, but others find offensive or off-putting. So how do you avoid these kinds of issues? While there is no way to 100% guarantee that this won’t happen to your company, we want to provide you with some best practices that can, 1) prevent these disasters from happening at all, or 2) help you to humbly deal with them in a professional manner.

  1. Create a social media policy for your employees. Social media policies are safety nets. They not only prevent social media disasters from happening, but if they do happen, they make recovery a much smoother process. No one wants to police the online social activity of their employees, but sometimes, without even touching company social media accounts, employees can share or post content that makes the company look bad by association. Make sure your employees not only understand what is expected when representing company accounts, but also that their personal online actions on their own accounts can have a direct effect on the way people view the company.
     
  2. Have a solid social media team in place. Whether your company outsources its social media or handles it in-house, it is important that you establish a person or group of people to which you can confidently hand over your company’s online reputation.
     
  3. Make some rules...Going along with the above point of having a clear and concise social media policy for your employees' personal use, it is also important to set some parameters for what is and is not acceptable when it comes to you company’s social media presence online. Include who can post to what accounts, best practices for various accounts, and the kinds of content appropriate for each account. Have a clear definition of responsibilities.
     
  4. but not TOO many rules. That being said, you do not want your company or brand to come off as an impersonal robot, so make sure your team feels comfortable enough to show some personality, as long as it falls within the parameters you have set.
     
  5. Monitor. Of course, we have said this before - monitor all accounts! This is something that can’t be stressed enough. If someone is saying something bad about your company or brand, you need to quickly respond and put out any fires as they arise (hopefully rarely). If something doesn’t work, or is taken the wrong way, make note and learn from it. Always be willing to admit you have made a mistake.
     
  6. Have a plan in place. Even if you do everything by the book, you may find yourself to have fallen victim to the unpredictable and sometimes selective ears of the social media sphere. When this happens, it is important your team knows how to deal with it. This includes listening for negative feedback and responding to it promptly. If your company made a mistake, apologies and admitting fault go a long way.  

So there you have it. Though you can’t always predict what will happen in the world of social media, you can rest easy knowing you have a plan for preventing and extinguishing a backlash. 

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