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6 Ways to Avoid PR Blunders on Social Media

6 Ways to Avoid PR Blunders on Social Media

3-Lessons-To-Learn-From-Big-Brands-and-Their-Social-Media-MistakesNo matter how prepared you think you are, mistakes are bound to happen. As a business, you want to reduce the amount of negative attention you receive as much as possible.  

Whether you say something you regret in the heat of the moment or someone misinterprets your message, what you say can potentially lead you into hot water. PR blunders will happen, the important thing is how well you react to them.

To limit the amount of PR fires you are putting out, keep these tips in mind.

Be clever, not crude

In whatever message you are sending out, it’s important to remember your audience. Some companies, such as Wendy’s, have gone viral on social media by becoming known for their sarcastic responses to customers. Wendy’s has become successful in this strategy because they figured out a way to connect with millennials on Twitter in a playful, entertaining way. The secret behind Wendy’s Twitter success lies in the fact that they are clever with their responses and are in an industry where their behavior on Twitter is more acceptable. Keep in mind that this strategy has to be used very carefully as it can quickly become offensive or insulting. There is a fine line between being clever versus crude (or inappropriate), so it is important to pay attention to your word choice when crafting messages. Before you send out a message, ask yourself and your peers if a reasonable person in your industry would be offended by your words.

Avoid hashtag disasters

Hashtags can be a great asset to networking or gaining awareness for your business. They can also be a recipe for a PR mishap. A “bashtag” is when a hashtag becomes a platform for sharing negative information about a company. It starts with a well-intentioned social media campaign, but for some reason or another quickly backfires. An example of this is when McDonald’s launched a campaign using the hashtag “#McDStories”. The intention of the campaign was for customers to share lighthearted stories about their memories of McDonald’s. The impact of this campaign quickly went south, however, when people started sharing McDonald’s horror stories instead. Before you start a social media campaign, weigh your options for how things could go awry. A failed campaign can do much more harm to your business than a successful one can do good.

Create guidelines

Making sure everyone is on the same page about the tone and mission of the message your company is pushing is crucial. Consistency allows for your brand to build a reputation and become better established in your audience’s collective memory. Creating guidelines serves as a “cheat sheet” for employees to understand the game plan for how to react and how to craft messages. Writing out your strategy makes it easier to follow, and it makes your team more accountable for following it. Establishing rules early on helps avoid future disasters because you already have a plan in place.

Monitor activity

You never know what people will say on social media, so don’t forget to regularly monitor your accounts. Be on the lookout for negative comments on your posts so that you can react accordingly. You should also monitor what people are saying about your business through reviews sites like Yelp, or on their own personal accounts. Be sure that you have included a process for responding to negative messages in a professional manner.

Double check everything

It’s easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks, so make sure that multiple sets of eyes take a look at the content you’re putting out in social media. Double or triple check everything that you do to ensure that it is as close to perfect as possible. You don’t want to accidentally let a typo slip through. While typos normally just illustrate a careless mistake, you never know when your typo could accidentally turn a normal word into something offensive. You can’t completely erase a mistake, so it’s important to have a solid system in place for editing content.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Swyft. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Swyft has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

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