5 Essential Steps for Preventing Social Media Disasters

social media speech bubbles

When a business becomes active on social media, the brand becomes exposed. Even with the best intentions, you can put your brand’s reputation at risk with the stroke of 140 characters or less.

For this reason, it’s important to have a crisis management strategy in place. Here are five ways to avoid missteps on social media. 


1. Educate yourself before inserting your brand into the conversation

There’s nothing worse than having a tweet backfire.

In 2012, the London-based fashion shop, Celeb Boutique, tweeted, “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress.”


aurora tweet from celeb boutique

The offending tweet by Celeb Boutique


The business did not know that Aurora was trending because a theatre shooting had just tragically occurred that day in Aurora, Colorado.

If the social media staff at Celeb Boutique had researched why people were tweeting about Aurora, then the brand could have avoided the embarrassment and extremely negative comments that followed. Celeb Boutique has since rebranded to “The House of CB”.

Always investigate a situation before posting or commenting about it.


2. Participate

In an online world where customers have voices that can be heard both collectively and immediately, you might be tempted to avoid having a social media presence altogether.

The problem with this way of thinking is that people will talk about your brand whether you’re part of the conversation or not. It’s often a good idea to participate in the conversation before it gets worse for your brand.

In 2010, Greenpeace activists called for Nestlé to stop getting their palm oil from corporations that ruin rain forests in Southeast Asia. Nestlé petitioned YouTube to take down a new Greenpeace video.


nestle greenpeace youtube video removed

The result of Nestlé issuing a copyright claim against a Greenpeace video on YouTube backfired.


Nestlé’s pursuit to muffle the conversation backfired. Mainstream media covered the story and the conversation grew exponentially.

Had Nestlé been more educated about social media tactics, the brand could have guided the online dialogue instead of giving up all control over it.


03. Take advantage of criticism

Did an unhappy consumer recently mention your business on Twitter? Think of the customer complaint as an opportunity rather than a setback.

If you give your customers wonderful customer service, they’ll certainly talk about it with their networks.

It is true that social media, by its very nature, puts businesses and public figures under a microscope for everyone to see.

If patrons are upset about your merchandise, they have the right to gripe about it publicly.

However, a forum like Facebook or Twitter also gives your brand a chance to make things right. 

Likewise, if your brand inadvertently posts something that’s untrue, you can post a public and respectful retraction.

Doing so in real time gives consumers the chance to forgive you. Similarly, if you see or hear false statements about your brand, not only can you instantly address it via social media, but your followers may also vouch for you.


4. Take accountability

If you make a mistake, just admit to it. For instance, if your company posts material that you did not anticipate as being controversial, don’t delete your followers’ comments.

Instead, address the error, and comment on your posts that have upset people. Issue statements on your social media pages if you think that’s the best course of action. 


celeb boutique apology for aurora tweet

Celeb Boutique at least took responsibility for their mistake, which went someway to help make up for such a heinous social media error


Taking this kind of action will foster customer loyalty. Rather than get more upset over the issue, most consumers will be impressed with how your brand handled the situation.

There’s no place to hide on social media sites, so it’s best to always be transparent.


5. Make things right

If your business makes a mistake with a customer, rectify the situation immediately. Don’t ignore errors when they’re brought to your attention. Otherwise, you may pay some heavy consequences.

If something is wrong, earn social credibility by admitting to the oversight and taking action to fix it.

Suppose a customer points out that your company doesn’t ship on Sundays and this information isn’t mentioned on your website. Acknowledge the feedback and let your customers know when the issue has been resolved.

Let constructive criticism be the force that propels your brand to the next level. Otherwise, you may face YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter videos denouncing your brand. Videos can go viral quickly on social media.



There is always a chance that you’ll never need to use your social media disaster plan after you implement it. However, if you don’t have a procedure in place before you’re confronted with an emergency situation, then you’ll certainly regret the decision.

Stay diligent, stay-in-know know. And remember, once something goes out online, it’s there forever, no matter how much you delete Tweets or apologise.

Boost your social media efforts with our free small business guides to social media…


Your Say!

Have you seen a huge social media fail unfold? How did the company in question react? We’d love to hear your stories, so pop us a comment below.

Written by

Nathan Preedy

Nathan has been with team.blue since 2005 and has a background in Technical Support. He is passionate about helping customers find the best product for them and use it to its full potential.