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How to Survive a Social Media Blunder

The Sacramento Social Media Club recently tapped experts from two top firms to address members at a club meeting. One of the experts had a very different type of social media nightmare story. It goes like this: A public relations agency pitched a story to a blogger – one that involved the Kardashians and pantyhose.

The blogger wasn’t interested, something that is par for the course for PR agencies. But one thing set this apart from other pitch rejections: the response from the agency. “That (expletive)”…the message read in part. That would have been bad enough; but what sends this mistake into nightmare status was the fact that the PR representative clicked the dreaded “reply all” button.

“It went not only to his internal company, but it went to the blogger. That blogger had 164,000 Twitter followers,” said Lori Bertelli of Augustine Ideas. And then, it got worse. The blogger responded to the VP to fill him in on what he had done. Instead of apologizing, the blogger told the VP how wrong she was. This resulted in a posting to all her Twitter followers – and yes, it went viral.

The lesson learned? “He could have stopped it,” Bertelli said. “The agency could have handled it better. It turned into a nightmare because she let it go and now everyone knows about it,” said Bertelli.

With that in mind, Bertelli and Josh Morgan of Edelman Digital provided these Sacramento social media event attendees with the Top 10 Ways to Survive a Social Media Blunder. We summarized them here:

1. Know your audience: Before you post anything, consider everyone who could be in your audience (not just the people you know of). Remember, not everybody thinks exactly the same as you.

2. Set up rules: Before you open up a social media forum, instate a policy that makes it clear certain types of speech won’t be tolerated.

3. Cool down: If you find yourself getting emotionally involved, take a step back. Don’t let followers or commenters get you so upset that you end up in a so-called “Twitter war” or other regretful situation.

4. Outsource carefully: Sure, an intern or friend may be comfortable using Facebook and Twitter, but are they the right person to represent you and/or your brand to the world? It’s easier to teach your brand/business to a social media professional than it is to teach a social media amateur about your brand.

5. Be prepared: Your admin(s) won’t be around forever, so set up multiple admins on your social media accounts. If someone is unavailable or they leave your company, you don’t want to be left high and dry.

6. Make it easy: Doing the right thing shouldn’t be hard, so keep your policies simple.

7. Own it: If a mistake happens, take responsibility for it quickly. Hiding from it won’t make it go away.

8. Have an editor or a discerning friend screen your posts. They might seem funny, insightful or wise to you, but they may not be to everyone (Ashton Kutcher recently learned this the hard way).

9. Accept what you can’t change: You can control what you say on social media, but you can’t control the social media actions of others. Just be ready to react appropriately.

10. Play nice: Don’t be insulting, hypersensitive or crass. One bad post is all it takes to concoct a social media nightmare.

Obviously, these guidelines aren’t only applicable to the Sacramento Social Media Club; they’re for every business that wants to keep its social media activity above board.

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