You’re shaking, sweating, and have a pit in the bottom of your stomach. You’re not watching a Halloween horror flick. You’re looking at a social media account you manage.
Social media managers face a lot of potential bumps in the night, and we see brands make mistakes all the time. I cringe for them, empathize, and then thank the universe that it wasn’t me.
But what happens if it is you? No need to fear! Here are five common nightmares for social media managers and how to deal with them if they occur.
Nightmare 1: Typo/Grammar/Broken Link
“Wow, that was a clever post” you think to yourself. Only to realize that your bit.ly doesn’t work, you misspelled the author’s name, or you forgot the difference between “affect” and “effect.” Oh great, it’s getting retweeted now so more people can see your writing incompetence…
How to Deal:
- Cop to it. If your community is commenting, tweeting, etc. about the mistake, admit the error. Humility and humor go a long way here.
- Edit if you can. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google + all let you edit a post. People may have already seen it and commented but at least it’s right for the future.
- If a link didn’t work, reply to each individual with the correct link or let them know when your website is back up.
- Don’t dwell! So you wrote Whales (the animal) instead of Wales (the country). You’ll never make that mistake again. Learn from it and keep trucking.
Nightmare 2: The Unhappy and Unreasonable Customer
You check in on your social media pages to make sure everything is going smoothly and to engage with your happy community. Then you see it. A scathing comment about your product. A horrifying review about your restaurant. You put on your customer service hat and get to work on resolving the situation. But the person won’t let go. They keep engaging negatively, they keep writing not-so-nice things, and they won’t be satisfied no matter what you say or do.
How to Deal:
- Acknowledge them and their feelings. Sometimes we just want to know we’re being heard.
- Take it offline. Move the issue to private messaging, email or phone. Get the negativity off your public profile.
- Escalate to management. This is especially true if there is a problem that could turn into a bigger problem (ex. major defect in product, sexist or racist slurs from employees). You need to make those in charge aware ASAP so you can get ahead of the issue.
- Have community guidelines in place. As a very last resort, you may need to hide a comment or ban someone. If your community guidelines clearly state what is and it isn’t accepted (profanity, vulgarity, etc.), it’s easier to justify those types of decisions.
- “Don’t feed the troll.” If it’s someone trolling or spamming your page, ignore and report their posts if necessary.
Nightmare 3: Campaign Bust
You spent months coming up with the perfect social media campaign. You have witty copy, eye-catching graphics, and an on-point advertising strategy. You’re going to collect user generated content, give away a great prize, and increase engagement. You launch and….crickets. Eek. No one is participating and you start sweating about updating the client or your boss.
How to Deal:
- Keep spreading the word. Cross-promote on different platforms. It may be a Facebook campaign but make sure to tell your Twitter followers, too. Do you have a newsletter? Send out a dedicated e-mail blast letting them know about the campaign.
- If you don’t have an advertising budget or it’s not enough, now’s the time to ask for more money.
- Guerrilla outreach. Don’t hijack every tweet or comment but organically mention the campaign at opportune times when someone engages with you or find conversations where it makes sense to promote it.
- Influencers and brand ambassadors – reach out to your extended network and get them to share.
- Learn! Realistically, not every campaign will knock the socks off the internet. After the campaign ends, take a hard look at what worked and, more importantly, didn’t work. Was the timing off? Did the call-to-action not resonate with your audience? Don’t be afraid to look at things critically. Next time, you’ll have a better idea of how to improve things.
Nightmare 4: Hashtag Hiccup
The internet sure knows how to take something and run with it. And it might not be the way you thought. While you may think the hashtag you came up with will get a certain response, it might not turn out that way. Suddenly it’s off the rails with people using it complain about your service or just NSFW.
On the flip side, you see a trending topic and decide to piggyback on it. You didn’t do your research. You may accidentally use it in an offensive manner or it has absolutely nothing to do with your brand. Now you’re getting The Princess Bride memes with the quote, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”
How to Deal:
- Don’t pretend it’s not happening. You may close your browser but that won’t solve the problem.
- Stay engaged. If people are complaining, then try to remedy their problems. Provide good customer service.
- Apologize. A meaningful, heart-felt apology should be issued if you have been offensive. Ask for forgiveness rather than delete and ignore.
- If you delete an offensive tweet, someone will have taken a screenshot. It won’t disappear so remember that.
- Monitor. Keep a close eye on your community to avoid any escalations. Nip things in the bud if possible.
Nightmare 5: Company Wide Crisis
Sometimes things hit the fan and are way bigger than you: a popular product is recalled, the CEO is embroiled in a scandal, or private data has been hacked and leaked. You’re on the front lines when a crisis occurs. People are going to be looking at social media for official responses and to air their opinions and grievances.
How to Deal:
- Settle in for the long-haul. It’s going to get stressful so take a deep breath and execute your crisis communication plan.
- Meet with higher-ups. This might include lawyers, senior management, and PR. Get on the same page of what you can and can’t say publicly.
- Collect links and screenshots. Keep a running doc with comments, posts, articles, etc. At the end of this, someone is going to ask for a report of what happened on social. Be prepared by keeping track as you go.
The Bottom Line
In social media, failing to plan is planning to fail. Solid plans are your first line of defense. In an ideal world, you’d never use the wrong “there/their/they’re” because you’d have an air tight editing process and your protocol to deal with customer service issues would be bullet proof.
However, it’s important to remember that we’re all humans and prone to mistakes or things out of our control. So the best thing to do is own up to any issue, try your best to fix or resolve it, and move on. Go for a run, grab a drink with friends, do yoga, watch Netflix. Do something in your personal life that will help you relax and be better prepared to face work.
As social media evolves, there are bound to be issues that you’ve never dealt with before – and that’s OK. Just remember that transparency, honesty, and not taking things personally are your best tools for coping when things go awry!