Making a Social Media Mistake

So you stayed up late last night. It was an all-night marathon of Law & Order, and we all know how that goes. As soon as you start watching an episode, you automatically have to watch until the end (because how else are you going to know who did it?)

But that means, even with the three cups of coffee you’ve gone through, you’re still staring bleary-eyed at your computer. And you have work to do. Social media ain’t going to post itself.

You begin crunching through your posts. By the end of the day, you happily turn off your computer and return home, knowing you’ve done your duty…and hey, those posts actually came out really great. Good for you!

It’s not until the next morning that you wake in a cold sweat, realizing what’s been nagging at you the whole evening.

You. Messed. Up.

Maybe it was a misspelled word. Or maybe it was a link that was wrong or even – horror of horrors – you listed a wrong speaker.

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.

I’m going to tell you a secret – it’s happened to all of us. So how should you handle this horrific moment?

  1. Quickly analyze the nature of the mistake. Is it a Code Blue (misspelling, wrong day/time, wrong link, etc.?) or is it Code Red (posting a personal post to a business account, making an inappropriate joke, using a curse word, etc.?)If you’re honest with yourself, it’s probably Code Blue. Very rarely will you have an emergency problem (Code Red), even though typing the wrong day and time may feel that way.

    For the remainder of this article, I’ll assume your mistake is a Code Blue, since that is what you’ll fall into most of the time.

  2. Note the reaction of your social audience. If there is no reaction, there’s a good chance nobody even noticed. With so much information going through social networks, many people just skim the information in front of them. If, for some reason, there is a large negative reaction to the post you may need to do a separate post calling attention to the mistake and apologizing. But you’ll probably see that most people just point out the mistake and are not necessarily vexed, in which case you can continue to the next point.
  3. React. If you’re on a medium that can be edited (Instagram text, Facebook text), fix the misinformation. If the medium cannot be edited, go ahead and delete the post – but make note of anyone who commented on the misinformation. Whether you edit or delete the post, reach out to the commenters and offer an apology for the mistake, thank them for bringing it to your attention, and let them know you’ve fixed it. You’ll find that most people will feel pride that they ‘helped’ you – making this, actually, a positive experience.
don’t let your own pride make an unexpected positive experience into a negative experience.

If you’re anything like me, you want everything to be perfect and it may feel better (to you) to just delete and “hide” your mistake.

Social media is meant to be transparent. People tend to react more positively to brands when they realize the brand is human and can make, and admit, to mistakes. I know it’s hard, but give it a shot the next time you mess up. You may be surprised!