3 Ways to Prevent and Recover From Social Media Disasters

By William Peacock, Esq. on March 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Remember Anthony Weiner? The former Congressman tweeted a picture of his eponymous member to his Twitter followers by accident while trying to send it to a woman he was courting over the Internet. What about the Kitchen Aid fiasco? One of their employees made a tasteless joke about President Obama’s late grandmother.

Weiner went from rising start to former Congressman. Kitchen Aid fired the employee and dealt with the backlash for weeks, according to Mashable. How can your company prevent a social media slip-up? And what do you do, to prevent lawsuits, if an errant tweet leads to trouble?

Have a Filter

Maturity comes with age and experience. If you wouldn't have a college intern handle press releases, why would you have them handle social media? Sure, they might be more familiar with the platforms, the Internet memes and online jokes, etc. That familiarity is outweighed by their lack of PR experience. Search Insider suggests having a PR person handle social media. At minimum, they should act as an editor/filter for interns' postings.

Hear All Evil

If you're lucky, negative reactions to social snafus will happen quickly and be resolved quickly before a true uproar has the chance to grow. If you want to keep a pulse on your brand's online presence, Google Alerts used to be the way to go. It would alert you whenever someone mentioned you, or your products, by name. Unfortunately, according to Mashable, it seems to be having issues. We're giving Mention.net a spin, and it seems quite promising. It monitors Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, forums, and the web generally and has a free trial plan.

Respond Appropriately, Immediately

Your course of action, should prevention not work, will depend on the severity of the slip-up. First of all, the "we got hacked" excuse rarely, if ever, works. If the posting was inappropriate and offensive, like the dead grandmother joke, a prompt apology and termination of the tasteless Twitter twerp is often sufficient to prevent litigation.

If the offending post was less severe, spin it. The Red Cross provides a perfect example of this. One of their staffers accidently tweeted "Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch beer.... when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd." For those unaware, that's both a high quality brew and a slick Ke$ha reference -- though not exactly an appropriate tweet for a disaster recovery organization.

The employee tweeted an apology, citing an accidental tweet from the wrong account. Red Cross stated "We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys." It was a quick, brilliant, humorous response that was well received. It also led to Dogfish Head starting a #gettngslizzerd fundraising campaign for the organization.

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