When tennis legend Serena Williams announced her pregnancy, the world rushed to express its joy, however, because of an errant snapchat, these well wishes came earlier than she had wanted. Though accidental premature good news doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, hitting share to the wrong account can have far graver consequences than an early congratulations message; just ask the (now former) director of the Webster Parish, Louisiana Tourism Board, who inadvertently posted a racy video meant for her husband to the Tourism Board’s official Instagram account. Thankfully, there are some tricks and tools you can use to keep this from happening, and some strategies for damage control if a slip up does happen:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially on the Internet where things live forever. Some ideas for stopping a gaffe in it’s tracks are:
- Keeping company and personal social accounts as separate as possible. This means not only preventing employees (or yourself) from associating the business with what you get up to in your spare time or private opinions, but also keeping these accounts as far away from each other as possible to prevent accidental posts. Way to do this include using different browsers for personal and business accounts and separate apps on your phone, so that you have one more step before being able to post.
- Be sure to limit the number of people who are reasonable for your company’s social media or who have access to it, and be sure to update passwords when people leave the team. This not only limits the pool of people who might post something inappropriate by accident, but it also prevents a disgruntled former employee for doing so on purpose.
- Always be sure to log out of a company account when you’re done working on it, and make it a policy for others to do the same. In that vein, don’t auto-save passwords. The extra step of having to log in every time you want to make a post will remind you which account you are about to access.
What if despite all your safe guards, a mistake happens anyway? There are some good (and some not so good) ways to address and correct a gaffe. In fact, if you play your cards right you can even make some solid lemonade out of a social media lemon:
- Confront the mistake head on, with humor if appropriate. The most cited example of this is from Red Cross America, who turned a mis-tweet about craft beer into an opportunity for fun, and fundraising.
- Apologize quickly, and sincerely. Taking too long to say sorry, or doing so in such a way that abdicates responsibility can do more harm than the initial mistake and can give more fuel to the fire if you’ve created controversy.
- Don’t let it happen again. People will forgive once, but if your social media becomes a mess of accidental personal posts and inappropriate or insensitive comments, your brand can remain tarnished for quite a while, as we all know, nothing truly disappears from the Internet.