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Saturday / February 27.

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How To Prevent Social Media Disasters

Social media – that which has been, rightly or wrongly, credited in today’s world for a great number of things. Naturally you want to incorporate the use of social media platforms into your business. And it is easy to think of the many ways social media can help you in event management.

But let’s face it – we are all human. (Presumably the person who runs your social media accounts is human too.) So you are bound to make a mistake somewhere down the line and the immediacy of social media increases the odds of this. As the cliché goes, however: to err is human, to forgive divine. Let us, then, think about how, as far as possible, to avoid a social media calamity and, should that happen, how to recover from it.

Think Before You Talk

This is probably sage advice across all areas of life actually. The thing about social media that you must remember is that it bears the illusion of distance. It’s easy to be prudent in speech when you actually have to verbalize thoughts in front of hundreds or thousands of people. When faced with nothing but a mobile device it’s deceptively difficult to judge how people would react to things you say.

Make sure that a tweet or posting is not sent without due diligence, whatever that may mean for your company or event. What you could do is ensure that at least 2 or 3 people need to see a potential post before you hit “send”. It can be easily to assume one’s joke is funny but a second opinion may tell you that, actually, it’s the most tasteless and colorless thing a person could say. Having a committee of sorts will help to eradicate the potential for disaster based on an individual’s cultural blind spots.

Research Before You Talk

When launching your event or product, make sure that you’ve done an extensive amount of research into things that may be linked, however tenuously, with what you are trying to market. Any one of a whole range of social media disasters is testament to the fact that a poorly researched post has far-reaching implications that is detrimental to your brand. So make sure you know about the historical, cultural or political implications of the choices you make with regards to words or hashtags. That will save you a lot of trouble.

Keep Your Ear To The Ground

Much like a small child or a pet dog, a social media post should never be left unattended. If you do that you’ll run the risk of becoming the next Justine Sacco. To sum up, she tweeted in a way that was viewed to be extremely derogatory to the people of South Africa just before she got on a plane. As #HasJustineLandedYet trended worldwide, she was safe in her cocoon high up in the sky, only to face the storm when she landed – a storm she had known nothing about.

It is important to be in touch with your social medium especially in the immediate aftermath of a post. The nature of social media is that it is communicative and something seemingly innocuous can blow up in the blink of an eye. So make sure there are eyes watching over how a post goes down to see if people have responded positively or negatively to it. If there has been a backlash of sorts, then at least you can proactively rectify the damage. Dealing with an issue 10 minutes after the fact is a lot better than letting it fester for hours before realizing something has gone awry.


They Never Forget: Make Amends

Due to the magic of things like screenshots, even a deleted Facebook post or tweet might be too late. So if you get called out for a social media gaffe, the one thing you should absolutely not do is try to cover things up. That will only make things worse. Make amends immediately. Apologize for whatever wrong and offense you might have caused and take the necessary action. This may include informing everyone that you are launching an immediate investigation or that errant staff will be dealt with. Assuage the public and assure them that you are on top of things and that if there was indeed anything that was offensive, that it had nothing to do with your wider company culture or ethos.

Also, take the extra step in reaching out to the offended parties. Service recovery is a topic that can be fully explored in other articles but the premise is simple: you can take the time to directly make it up in whichever way you deem most suitable to your clients, customers, or third parties. A good service recovery will help your image in the long run.

That’s It

This is definitely a topic that we can revisit at another time and discuss more on with more case studies. But these simple points should give you a simple basis on which to avoid social media disasters and what to do immediately after they have inevitably been committed.

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