Imagine this: you’re in a meeting and giving a presentation to the top executives at your company. However, something’s off. You look down, and instead of your usual spiffy workplace attire, you’re wearing nothing at all. While this particular nightmare is said to signify that “you may be hiding something and are afraid that others can see right through you,” a social media nightmare is a whole other story. Most of us can agree that all nightmares are scary, but they’re even scarier when the possibility of them coming true isn’t all that farfetched.
Many social media nightmares are relatable situations that the majority of marketers can agree are terrifying to think about. To find out what horrifying experiences are keeping people up at night, we asked our audience what their social media nightmares are. As our own version of a soothing lavender aromatherapy roll-on (try it), we’ve provided some tips for avoiding and fixing these cringe-worthy situations. Don’t let the bedbugs bite!
Typos and grammar mistakes
@hootsuite not catching a typo in a tweet until after it gets retweets.
— Kira McCall (@kiramccallPR) May 30, 2016
@hootsuite the feeling when you spelled something terribly wrong!
— Renee' LeClear Gavin (@Applemansqueeze) May 30, 2016
You’ve just sent the perfect Tweet, and lean back to wait for all of the Retweets and replies to come in. You see that Retweet number skyrocketing, and feel a satisfied grin spread across your smug little face. Engagement! You’re doing it!
You go back to the original Tweet to print it off and tape it to your desk as a reminder of how smart and creative you are, when your heart stops. There’s a spelling error. You look dumb.
This is a situation that most, if not all, social media managers can relate to. It’s not fun for anyone (except for your workplace nemesis who will clap like a cymbal-yielding monkey and take great joy in pointing it out to anyone who will listen). And while it isn’t a great situation, there are ways that your spelling or grammar mistakes can be looked at that even the “your/you’re” police can’t argue with.
First of all, if the mistake in question has been noted, mentioned, or called out by any members of your audience, own it. Acknowledge the error, make a humorous comment, and respond in a humble way. Under no circumstances should you delete your post, unless the typo makes the content in question inappropriate or NSFW (I once sat in on a presentation regarding the warrants of public policy, where a missing “L” made top executives in the room snicker like school-aged children). In the wise words of RuPaul: “Your fear of looking stupid is making you look stupid.”
If people who caught your typo see that you deleted it or pretended it was fine, you risk looking even more questionable. Human beings make mistakes. But by owning up to tiny blunders like typos or grammatical errors you humanize your brand. It can be easy to forget that there are actual people behind a company’s Twitter handle or Facebook Page, so, as long as these aren’t a constant issue that take away from your overall message, the occasional mistake can help your brand’s voice seem more authentic and relatable.
Consistent spelling errors and grammar mistakes, on the other hand, won’t go unnoticed. If you’re getting more words “wrong than write,” your audience will be distracted from your core messages (as you just were). Your brand’s credibility and authority will be damaged if you are guilty of regular and careless mistakes. Prevent these by:
- Having “someone on your team look over your content before you hit ‘Post’; ideally, you’d want at least two pair of eyes after you compose it.
- Double-check everything, including the @mentions in your Tweet: it’s common to skip Twitter usernames during the proofreading process, only to realize that the post mentions an incorrect or nonexistent Twitter handle!
- Read your composed messages out loud.
- If you have any hesitations at all, look up spelling or grammar issues you might be unsure of.
Even when you’re careful, spelling and grammar flubs happen. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and learn from your mistakes. There’s nothing more human than that.
Posting from the wrong account
@hootsuite I accidentally use my company's social media account instead of my (locked) personal account.
— Sara Crimmel Miller (@scrimmiller) May 30, 2016
— socialclysm (@socialclysm) May 30, 2016
While spelling and grammar mistakes are a definite social media nightmare, posting from the wrong account seems to be another clear fear amongst social media marketers. There are few feelings as jarring as sharing photos from your night out on the town, only to realize that those photos of you dancing on tables were sent from your company’s official branded social media accounts. While personal and professional social media identities are becoming more and more overlapped by the minute, there are definite boundaries for what is acceptable to post to your company’s account.
@hootsuite …you realize the Snapchat story of you singing Rick Astley to your cats was posted to your work account. 🙈
— Jessica Allen (@allen_jessica) May 30, 2016
Now that your boss knows about your ability to ride a mechanical bull, you probably want to bring yourself back to professional status. While not as bad as it could have been, HubSpot employee Pamela Vaughan learned how to do this the hard way, when she accidentally posted a photo of her five-month baby bump to the official HubSpot Twitter account—and all 340,000 of their followers at the time.
After receiving an email with the subject line “Oops” from a colleague who had seen the post, Vaughan quickly sprang into action to begin her redemption efforts. Explaining her thought process at the time, Vaughan said, “Worse comes to worst, I figured we could always just make fun of ourselves for the slip-up, and it would all boil over. There were definitely worse things I could’ve accidentally tweeted…” While I don’t advise you delete a social media mistake such as a spelling error, this was a personal photo of Vaughan’s which was something she intended to share with those in her private life.
After deleting the image from HubSpot’s account, she alerted the company’s social media and PR managers who confirmed that no extra action was needed on her part. Reassured, Vaughan wisely states: “No matter what tools and technology you use to power your marketing, don’t forget that humans are behind it. We’re the ones telling those tools what to Tweet, who to email, what to publish. And… well… sh*t happens, guys. Because we’re only human after all.“
If you find yourself at the helm of such a social media blunder, Vaughan advises the best way to deal with it, as with most things, is humor and grace. While you may want to delete the offending piece of content, acknowledge that it happened in a humorous and good-natured way. If the blunder was more offensive and you require more PR power, get on this as quickly as possible and don’t make any moves before doing so. To sum it up, the best ways to recover from accidentally posting to the wrong account and wake up from this social media nightmare are:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously! Use appropriate humor and comedy to offset any negative backlash.
- Get PR help if necessary. They are the experts, and are trained for these kinds of situations. Don’t forget, not all heroes wear capes.
To avoid falling into such a social media nightmare in the first place, some tips to keep in mind include:
- Use different browsers for different needs. While slightly annoying, having to explain to a client why you’ve posted about your dog’s digestive problems to their official Facebook Page would be a bit more of an inconvenience.
- Use a social media management tool (we might know of one) where you can oversee all of your accounts and keep your business and personal accounts separated. Hootsuite’s Secure Profiles feature “prevents mistakenly posting to the wrong account and reduces the risk of employee error” through employing a double approval system.
- Double- and triple-check before you publish or schedule content. You’re a busy person, but it’s worth taking the extra second or two to make sure you’re sending content from the right account. You know what takes up more time than this? Having to meet with your boss about your mistake and write a blog post to apologize on behalf of the company. Just saying.
A dissatisfied customer who can’t be reasoned with and won’t go away
@hootsuite …a dissatisfied customer won't stop replying on social media regardless of best efforts to wrap the convo & take it offline
— Kelly A. Martinez (@themartinezmktr) June 1, 2016
Have you ever publicly complained to or about a brand on social media? If so, you’re not alone. Since January 2014, there has been an eightfold increase in customer complaints via social media. You could literally be giving a customer a foot massage, but sometimes nothing will stop them from making a public complaint.
While not a great look for any brand, this social media nightmare is far from being uncommon. To not only prevent, but fix a situation involving an upset customer or audience member, the following are steps outlined in our previous post on How to Deliver Exceptional Social Media Customer Service.
- Listen to your customers—If you’re using social media listening properly, you should be able to jump into any troublesome conversations and quickly fix the issue at hand. Pay attention to problems or complaints that repetitively arise, and take any appropriate actions to ensure they don’t repeat themselves.
- Respond in a timely manner—As ”30 percent of Twitter users expect a response within half an hour,” you’re missing out on opportunities to satisfy your customers when you fail to meet these expectations. While of course it isn’t always possible to respond right away (and you don’t want to sacrifice a well thought out response for timeliness), do your best to get back to customers as quickly as you can.
- Take the conversation offline if necessary—If your social media responses don’t seem to be cutting it, and the customer doesn’t seem satisfied, it’s probably time to take the conversation offline. Offer to give them a call at their convenience to talk through the situation and truly listen to their concerns. This might be slightly inconvenient and take a bit more time, but is easier than having to constantly explain the public complaints.
While your best efforts at counting sheep can’t ward off most social media nightmares, the above tips can hopefully give you the sweetest of dreams.
Keep your social media nightmares at bay by using Hootsuite to manage all your social channels!