Making lemonade

The greatest fear of many professionals using social media is making a mistake in a very public way.  The hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet comes to mind, and if you haven't heard about Justine Sacco's twitterstorm earlier this year, you owe it to yourself to read this synopsis.  While most of us are not that clueless, we do fear being called out for a tweet or a facebook post. 

Justine Sacco caused a twitterstorm in December 2013 before boarding an 11-hour flight

Justine Sacco caused a twitterstorm in December 2013 before boarding an 11-hour flight

If you manage your organization's account in addition to your own, the fear increases exponentially.  What if you accidentally tweet about that Dogfish Head Midas Touch beer you just bought, not from your own twitter handle, but from your Red Cross corporate account?  Well, that's exactly what happened to one unfortunate soul at the Red Cross.  The organization responded quickly and with humor, which won them respect from the online community and an influx of donations.  When life hands you a lemon, that's an example of what is technically referred to as "making lemonade."

The solution (and a social media best practice) is to keep your personal and professional accounts on different platforms (twitter and tweetdeck, or facebook and hootsuite, for instance), but in the real world, most people still use the same platform for multiple accounts.  So, how can you avoid mistakes?  First of all, don't post anything bad from either professional or personal accounts.  If you wouldn't want your mother or your boss to see it, don't post it anywhere online.  If you're hesitating about posting something, you probably shouldn't do it.  If you're still not sure, try to imagine your board of directors reading the post at a meeting and see if you're still comfortable with the idea.

If worse comes to worst and you do post a rogue message on your own account or your work account, you can always delete it, but chances are someone will see it before it's gone.  Then people will wonder why you deleted it and could talk about it, extending the post's life.  If you feel it could get out of hand, just fess up and acknowledge it was sent from the wrong account.  If it's bad, contact your communications colleagues and ask for advice (or to let them know the twitterstorm is coming).  If it's really bad, dust off your crisis communications plan and follow the protocols.  You do have a crisis plan, right?

Biggest #SocialMedia #fails:

McDonald's #McDStories

Home Depot

KitchenAid

NYPD

StubHub

American Apparel

Applebee's