a facebook mea culpa: when a good post goes bad
by pagesetup

facebook-meaWhat should a social media manager do when a good post goes bad? Sometimes media managers post under their own names by accident. Sometimes communique intended for one party ends up at another’s. Sometimes a well-intended post on social media will not be received as well-intended.

We’ve all been there–typos, double or unclear meanings, or worse. Facebook brings us an “edit” button that doesn’t actually allow any editing. It’s easy to understand why we are not allowed to edit a posting–unscrupulous people could profoundly change the content of the post after people have already posted comments or liked the post. This would make users lose confidence in making any posts at all. Besides, an edit button wouldn’t necessarily solve a problem after it’s already been said. What Facebook really needs to invent is a prevent-foot-in-mouth button.

So a bad post has been made, and now the choice has to be made: kill it or own it. Hope and pray that no one saw it (despite what Insights say!) and pretend that it didn’t happen or, if it’s on topic, engage your followers with it.

when to kill
When the post was meant for someone else, contains confidential information, or simply inappropriate, then it’s ok to kill it by deleting it-removing it from Facebook’s system. If the error was a little more innocent, such as a typo, then it would ok to “kill” it by hiding it from your timeline (and reposting), but the error should still be acknowledged with a comment such as “I’m not awake until I’ve had my morning coffee.” After all, we are all human and we will make mistakes.

Why not just deleted it? If you delete a post that has been online for a few hours giving people plenty of time to see it then it seems sneaky and not transparent to your users to delete it, while simply apologizing for it portrays that your company was on top of things and took care of it.

Killing a post is the easy way out. But how do you know when you should own it?

when to own
Clearly if a message has been posted for a couple of days or so, deleting now might look worse than owning it, but it’s too late to pretend that the post never happened. Unless the post is completely off topic (politics, for instance) or if it has any confidential info, then it’s probably best to own it. Explain to your followers/users what happened and why. Apologize if necessary. Being perceived as humble (at best) or an air head (at worst) is far better than losing trust from your audience.

scenario
Let’s take a scenario where a business that is an independent wireless retailer has a social media manager that posts a news link on Facebook about the “10 most dangerous cell phones to own.” The social media manager is often posting news articles and she knows that the independent wireless retailer prides itself on not being associated with one particular wireless carrier, thereby positioning themselves in the marketplace as a more of a consumer advocate and less of an another-one-of-the-big-carrier’s cronies.

Many customers of the independent wireless retailer’s receives this post in their respective Facebook newsfeed and one high-profile customer immediately picks up the phone to call the owner of the independent wireless retailer screaming, “why would you sell me a cell phone that could explode??!” The owner freaks, deletes the post, and fires the social media manager.

We’ve known since the time of Ben Franklin that sensationalism sales (see video clip on the right). Often referred to in Internet times as “link bait,” being a little more dramatic in your headlines is what gets people interested, no matter how mundane the real story may be.

Let’s take our own example–we are working on a posting about bad websites for small tech companies and we could title it “bad website’s for small tech companies,” but that’s a little boring and people will be less likely to read it. A much more interesting, or rather, sensational headline would be “the single biggest mistake small tech companies do on the web” or “the common and easiest way for small tech companies to lose sales” and then there will be more user engagement. Do not be afraid of headlines or topics that engage your audience–this is the very purpose of social media networks.

Back to the aforementioned scenario, the independent wireless retailer missed a opprotunity to highly engage their following. The first thing that should be communicated is that the information is new–the data just recently has come to light, so therefore it would have been impossible for the independent wireless retailer to have known about any issues with the cell phones being sold. Second, the independent wireless retailer missed an opportunity to make that right–perhaps by making another sale at cost or providing cell phone covers that can guard against leakage or radiation (or what ever the problem may be).contact--fb

The independent wireless retailer may also need to explain that while they do continue to stock a few of the “dangerous phones”, they let people know all the info they can–after all, they do position themselves as a consumer advocate. Further, some people may have jobs or other situations where they can only use that particular type of phone, leaving them little choice even after knowing this new information.

In addition, the post could have engaged users with such things as–does knowing this information change your decision-making? How likely are you to trade in or upgrade now that you know about the dangers? Do you know other people who own these phones? Does it change your opinion on the manufacture? And many more ways of engaging the audience and building trust–perhaps even making a sale or two!

bad publicity
How does that old saying go? Bad publicity is better than no publicity! If it takes being a little edgy to engage your audience, or if you have to leave up a post you’d rather not have happened, then so be it. What do you think? Have you regretted posting something on Facebook before? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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