Anatomy of a Social Media Meltdown

by Hannah Stuart, Copywriter - 10/18/17

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When social media marketing misfires, what would your team do?

Who can forget Pepsi’s tone-deaf and poorly timed commercial involving Kendall Jenner putting a stop to tensions between protesters and police by showing up with an ice-cold, refreshing Pepsi? While the internet’s collective reaction was ruthless all-around, perhaps the best response came from Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pepsi put out an apology, noting the company’s intent was not to make light of a serious issue. While the initial post was thoughtless, the apology came across as sincere, admitting that the message clearly “missed the mark.” Sometimes, when you botch a social or digital marketing effort, you just have to bite the bullet and admit you were wrong.

Other brands, however, have not been quite as successful in their handling of mistakes.

Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro, featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, attained the honor of being the first restaurant to make Ramsay walk off the show back in 2013. When the episode aired, as could be expected, the bakery received a lot of negative feedback on its Facebook page.

Rather than responding in a measured, professional manner, owners Amy and Samy chose to post a multitude of progressively intense rants against “the haters” who left negative comments. The feud didn’t stay confined to Facebook, either—it carried over to sites like Reddit and Yelp. All in all, it was not a great moment for the bakery, publicity-wise.

Which leads us to the important question: when it comes to handling social snafus, is your team a Pepsi or an Amy’s?

Dealing With It: Handling Social Media Mistakes

So, you or someone on your social media team made a mistake, and your followers are responding in droves. Where do you go from here?

First: roll up your sleeves and face it. Ignoring—or worse, deleting—negative feedback on your social media channels only allows the situation to spiral out of control. Claiming “hacking,” another tactic used by brands who don’t wish to admit their mistakes, is also incredibly unpopular, and followers see right through it.

Don’t rush to respond, however. Because social media engagement happens in real time, it’s understandable that you feel an urgent need to respond and that every second counts. Crafting a well-considered response is worth it, especially if you’re drafting an apology for your mishap. Don’t flood your apology with difficult-to-understand legalese, either. Take your time, understand what you did wrong, and own up. Your followers will appreciate the care you put into your statement.

A human touch is important when it comes to handling any kind of internet feedback. Responses to follower complaints that sound as if they were generated by your PR team will get you nowhere. Instead, ask that follower to reach out via phone or email to provide you with more information about their specific problem. A canned reply is not as bad as a defensive rant, but if your goal is to smooth things over, authenticity is key.

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Topics: Digital Marketing

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