How to fix a social media mistake

You go sit in the corner and think about what you did wrong. And when you know what it is, you let me know.

Don’t actually do that. I’m just thinking back to my childhood and what happened when I did something wrong. I remember my mom saying that, and I never imagined it would help be the catalyst for an article 35ish years later.

Recently, I called a brand out on Twitter for making a mistake on its website. I was extremely nice about it, and while a word or two was changed, the brand never tweeted back or fixed the problem. The following day, another website used the incorrect information that was never corrected.

I call this irresponsible social media, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it. To be frank, I hate it. Whether or not you’re a regular reader of So Social, the advice I offer here is basically common sense for the digital age. My tips are nothing new or groundbreaking, but they should hopefully serve as an important reminder of how important it is to own up to your mistakes and correct them when necessary.

So here are five tips to fix a social media mistake before it gets worse.

  • Acknowledge the request to look into the problem. I'm not even talking about admitting wrongdoing. In my example, a simple "thanks for the tweet, we'll look into it" would have made all the difference. Even something less pleasant than that, but to not respond at all is unacceptable. You should also know that other people retweeted me, so there's no way this brand missed the controversy.
  • Do not delete. I have lost count of all the times I talked about not deleting content, but it's still important. When someone has a beef with you and your brand, there may be several tweets or Facebook comments. Never delete or hide a comment or tweet. Respond to each of them. Someone will notice if you respond, but they'll also notice if you delete their content.
  • Don't be combative. Even if the accusations are wrong and you know it, take a deep breath and decide on your message before sending it. In other words, don't react in the heat of the moment.
  • Apologize if necessary. If you look into it and see that a mistake was made, apologize even if it's minor. Thank the person again. See a pattern between this and general customer service? Good. You should. It's the same thing. Even if the customer isn't always right, do everything in your power to make them feel that way.
  • Send the person a direct message. Like a final handshake. Something like "Hey, just wanted to apologize again for that mistake/confusion." Simple, yet above and beyond. It will go a long way toward making everyone feel better.

The digital trail on social media lasts forever. And it’s easy for things to be taken out of context. It’s equally as important to take the time to acknowledge what went wrong and commit to fixing it.