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Social media offers marketers a unique way to interact with customers. With a bit of wit and personality, brands can establish a deep relationship with their buyers online and leverage that sense of connection to promote their products and services.
However, while social media gives businesses unparalleled access to consumers, it can also highlight mistakes, potentially throwing a company’s perceived flaws into stark relief for the entire internet to see. In the age of “cancel culture” and increasing social activism, a single off-color tweet or poorly conceived post could tarnish a brand’s carefully curated image or, worse, damage its reputation.
How can marketers avoid running afoul of consumers on social media? Below, nine experts from Forbes Agency Council explore different ways to sidestep the impending doom of major social media blunders.
1. Allow Clients To Sign Off On All Posts
Marketers have a responsibility to their clients to ensure that any messaging released is in alignment with the client’s brand voice and core value structure. This can be accomplished by providing the client with proof sets of all posts before release. This allows the client to sign off and keeps everyone on the same page, reducing liability for both the client and marketer. – Leanna DeBellevue, DeBellevue Global Marketing Firm
2. Establish A Rigorous Vetting Process
A rigorous vetting process with a diverse set of approvers will help marketers avoid inadvertent social media gaffes. If a social media post is still in question, do your research and consider consulting those in the community that your post is addressing. Finally, if your published post ends up being a serious gaffe, take a moment to listen, understand the audience’s “why” and present an honest and sincere explanation. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC
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3. Set Clear Guidelines For The Team
Setting guidelines that help teams understand social media isn’t just a private corner, but extremely searchable and visible, will help avoid gaffes. At Moz, we follow a “TAGFEE” code: transparent, accountable, generous, fun, empathic and exceptional. This guides everything we do, including our social engagement. Establishing a code around concepts such as accountability and transparency can and should drive everything, including social engagement. – Sarah Bird, Moz
4. Get Multiple Eyes On Every Post
Have multiple eyes on a social media post before it goes out. Establish the precedent that any social post that goes out is proofed and reviewed by another member of your team. When working on the same post for an extended period of time, it is easy to miss an error. Having someone outside of the creation process evaluate the post ensures that all interpretations of the content are considered. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
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5. Create Intergenerational Teams
Social media should be managed by savvy and mature marketing professionals and not just tech-savvy managers who know the media. Creating intergenerational teams is key. Seasoned communications pros should work side by side with technical experts. Just because you know how to post doesn’t mean you know what to post. Would you ask a mail carrier to run your direct mail program? – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch
6. Stay Up To Date On The News Cycle
Keep your eyes on the ball—and the news. If there is an issue with a social post, be one of the first to see it and remove or fix it. Scheduling posts too far out can be problematic; a brand may look “tone-deaf” if the media is in 24/7, wall-to-wall crisis mode when a post finally runs. If several hours or days have gone by, treat the response as a problem: Accept responsibility, make amends and promise to do better in the future. – Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing
7. Don’t Use Social Media For Emotional Responses
Avoid using social media as a platform for knee-jerk, emotional responses. Ensure that your brand has a process for planning posts and checking them with a few people who look at things from different angles. Know your audience and your values. If there is a sticky topic that your company must comment on, do so thoughtfully. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
8. Align Social Media Managers’ Values With The Company’s
First, you should make sure that your social media managers’ values and beliefs align with what you want to communicate externally. That way, gaffes will be much less likely to happen. Second, do your homework and prepare for quick pivots. Social media moves very quickly, so it’s crucial to stay on top of everything that’s happening and adjust your message and tone of voice accordingly and in time. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency
9. Use A Brand-Safe Programmatic Platform
Ditch social media and advertise on the open web with a brand-safe, performance-based programmatic platform that can ensure your content and ads are in safe environments by blocking specific sites, topics, sentiments and more. Context has never been more important. – Lon Otremba, Bidtellect
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member