When you have shared something on social media you can always take it down, but the chances are high that a few followers might have seen it by then. For brands that wish to go slightly off-brand and post something, it is crucial to remember that timeliness and tone of what to say next are important. You cannot pretend like the overstep did not happen, but you can work to minimize the damage through a careful strategy.
1. Do Not Ignore
If some, but not all of your followers are taking something the wrong way, you still cannot ignore the situation. Take this opportunity to humanize your brand and make deeper relationships with your customers in the process. Do not try to argue or ignore, but apologize and accommodate. If it has offended a few, it is a good idea to delete the post altogether.
2. Never take a Hard Stance
Taking a stance in favor of the post is perhaps the most risky thing you can do. But if you know what you are doing, it is better to take a stand than to give out a hollow apology. Nobody likes a brand or person who does not stand by a belief. If your reasons for taking a stand are solid and marketable, you can follow this risky approach.
Once again, this approach can backfire especially for SMEs who refuse to even open the floor for debate. But for brands that love polarizing opinions and categorizing audiences into this or that, the approach works.
3. Be Quick in Responding
Clear up the miscommunication as soon as you hear about it and solve the issue quickly. The one thing worse than saying ‘no comment’ is to delay a response. Delayed response lets the situation move away from your favor and the negative criticism keeps pouring in.
4. See If You Can Delete the Post
If you posted something on any social platform that was not received well, delete the post. In the world of social media and screenshots, you will not get much out of apologizing and letting the post stay. If you do not delete the post you will find yourself hanging between denial and dissent.
5. Get Brand Leaders Onboard
Your prominent brand executives and influencers should step in and clear the air. They can also use their personal social media profiles to tell the world that the post does not represent your brand as a whole. Immediate action from brand executives helps in doing some damage repair and calm the haters.
6. Transparency is Key
It is important to be transparent in situations like these. We recommend that you apologize and also contact the people who were offended by your post. You should also use the opportunity to admire the response of people and thell them that it was a learning experience for your brand.
7. Remember You Can’t Please Everyone
Brands cannot make everyone happy. Engaging and active brands dont always get the content or messaging right, even on ads. An active brand knows that they will never make everyone happy, so they plan to make their next move stronger than the last.
8. Own Up to Your Mistakes
When humor attempts on social media go wrong, own up to it. There are some people who will never be pleased and others who try to be harsh to the brand about their dissent. Brands should know that there are people like this out there and be authentic about the whole affair. When a brand apologizes for the error true followers will accept the apology and move on with the brand.
9. Have a Sense of Humor
Be it a real blunder or a misunderstanding, humor in an apology is always a good idea. If the blunder came from an employee, someone higher-up in the management can step in and explain. People see right through fake apologies, so remember this aspect as well. However, make sure that you analyze the extent of damage before you issue an apology with an element of humor.
10. Don’t Censor Negative Comments
It will be difficult to do but you cannot fight negative feedback by censoring it. Censoring or deleting comments will add fuel to the fire and make the brand look tone deaf. Social media is a two-way street and if you expect people to pay attention when you talk, you should expect their response as well- be it negative or positive.
11. Learn and Move On
No one wants to be in this situation but now that you have made a social media blunder, learn from it and move on. The measures you put in place should be sufficient and make your brand look like it is run by a bunch of champions who can accept their mistakes. Considering the impact of social media, walking away or ignoring will get you nowhere in the future. Once the situation is handled effectively, the dust will settle and you will be able to start afresh.
Is Inviting Controversy a Good Idea?
People who have no opinion on anything and who would rather sit on the fence don’t get into arguments. They want to stay nice and uncontroversial so they stay back from commenting on major issues. While such people rarely make waves, they also come off as weak or uninspiring.
For brands that appeal to specific demographics or have a brand image connected to activism, a controversial post can be an important part of the marketing strategy. A carefully-planned hot take or controversial post that sparks debate can give them a highly shareable piece of content. Such discussions not only reinforce brand image but also get mainstream media attention. In many cases, this discussion can impact a brand’s bottomline greatly.
However, there is a great difference between planning a debate and ending up into a situation because of human error. Creating an emotional, heartfelt response when your brand has done wrong is both admirable and courageous. Having excellent understanding of your target demographic will lead the way in the apology process.
You can never guarantee what the public will say in response or how your brand will get back to former glory, but you can stand by the rule book and let the mistake make you look human. For this you need a team of experienced professionals who are not scared to risk things and understand your long-term goals. Deliberately planning a controversial post is not something we recommend to smaller brands, because the approach can backfire quickly. So if you are considering landing in hot waters by yourself, make sure that you check and double-check the plan because the internet never forgets.
The growth and evolution of social media has provided brands with a marketing tool and a chance to humanize their brand. It is virtually impossible to make social media mistakes, but it is always possible to make it right at the end of the day. It is the same humanizing tactic that makes your mistakes seem normal and helps you connect with the customers more.