All Articles Marketing Social Media Live from #SXSW: 6 ways to avoid a social media catastrophe

Live from #SXSW: 6 ways to avoid a social media catastrophe

2 min read

Social Media

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This guest post is by Daley Epstein, a contributing writer for SmartBrief. She is reporting live from South by Southwest in Austin this week.

While social media has infinite potential to do wonders for your business, it also has the potential to cause a catastrophe. “A hazard of social media is that people will read what you write. Your error will be multiplied in its impact by the trail of online wreckage it creates,” said Marla Erwin, the interactive art director for Whole Foods Market.

Companies such as Amazon, United Airlines, Pepsi, Chipotle and Motrin have made mistakes resulting in unprecedented ramifications, thanks to customer feedback via social media. Companies can stave off a social media disaster by being cautious and vigilant, and responding swiftly to crisis. Some of Erwin’s tips:

  • Fight social media fire with social media water. Be it Facebook, Twitter or another network, always make sure you are in the same medium as your customers.
  • Context matters. If you are responding to a tweet, make sure you aren’t responding to the final of a series of tweets, as you could end up looking foolish.
  • Apologies matter. If you are going to apologize to your customers, you’d better mean it.
  • Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Don’t mock or belittle your customers. It’s a bad move.
  • It matters who steers the ship. It pays to trust your staff, but make sure the person running your social media front has the sensibility and the training that you can rely on.
  • Avoid “The Streisand Effect.” Sometimes, you are the problem. By trying to cover up or mend mistakes,  you may be perpetuating them. Focus efforts on shutting down, not causing, the media hype.

Is your company properly responding though its social media channels?