Recover from social media failure

By Torben Rick

Big Small Fish

One of the key benefits of social media is that your messages can reach more people faster.

But this also means that your mistakes can too.

Whether you accidentally tweet an insensitive message or a customer posts a disparaging video about your product, don’t panic.

The key is to leverage the misstep to your advantage. The same medium that made your mistake wildly visible can help broadcast your apology.

If you face negative publicity in new media, there is zero chance of turning it around with old media techniques.

In 2009, Domino’s was blindsided by a YouTube video showing two disgruntled employees contaminating the food they were about to deliver. It was a PR nightmare for the company, until they fired back through social media – uploading their own YouTube video explaining what they were doing to fix the situation and creating a special Twitter account to specifically handle customers concerns about this issue. Because of their quick and appropriate responses directly to the people most concerned, Domino’s was able to diffuse what could have been a catastrophic event.

Similarly, Taco Bell recently combated a traditional attack (a class action lawsuit charging that the restaurant’s meat isn’t really beef) with new media techniques. On Twitter, Taco Bell linked to comedian Steven Colbert’s musings on the controversy; on Facebook, they offered free tacos, encouraging customers to make up their own minds about the beef in question. And while overall sales have taken a hit, its seven million loyal Facebook “friends” are as enthusiastic as ever – and the lawsuit has been dropped.

Don’t attempt to manipulate the truth. Be up-front about the mistake and apologize. When everyone can see what you’re doing, you need to act with transparency, honesty, and credibility.

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