Most organizations will encounter an incident on social media. These small mistakes or learning opportunities don’t have to end in a full blown crisis. If they occur, however, social media crises can be managed. Your followers are looking for a few key things during the tense and stress-filled event. Your brand’s reactions are being closely scrutinized so it’s best to plan for a crisis before it even happens. To begin, let’s look at 7 things NOT to say during a social media crisis.

Whine “It’s Not My Fault”

A brand’s social media manager sometimes makes a mistake. The mistake, unfortunately, represents your organization if it’s on your public social channels. The worst thing you can do is to blame someone else.

Many celebrities will claim that their accounts were “hacked.” Some brands will say the same. While it is true that social media accounts can be hacked, the best response to a situation is to take responsibility. Even if you were hacked, apologize for the mistake and move on.

Add Insult to Injury         

One particularly bad move is insulting your followers. Back in 2013, Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro was featured on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares television show. It wasn’t the most flattering of appearances and many people left nasty comments on their Facebook page. The company’s response was even less flattering:

Another thing to note, all caps equates to yelling digitally. Yelling isn’t the most soothing of responses. Insulting your fans or even those that are interested in your brand is never a good idea.

Take the Fight Public

Many times a social media crisis can erupt from a customer complaint. If the complaint can be handled privately, the matter can generally be resolved quickly. If the brand chooses instead to handle the complaint publicly, you can bet that every action will be watched closely.

The customer is already disgruntled and will be looking for someone to listen and resolve the complaint. Your social media team should be prepared to act for your brand and not take complaints personally. One of the worst things any sort of customer service representative can do is internalize the complaint and react negatively.


There are times when you will share something that your followers won’t like. Corporate messaging, prior to social media, meant telling the world what you were about. Social media, however, is give and take. Making a bold statement via your social media can cause some backlash if it doesn’t align with what your followers believe is representative of your brand.

Be prepared to have a mature discussion about the statement. Antagonizing anyone who disagrees with you is not the way to guide him or her to see your point.

Bury your Head

Sometimes the first reaction to a mistake is attempting to remove all traces of it. If your brand is well known and well followed, however, you may have a large audience who witnessed and captured the mistake. As the mistake is pointed out, shared, going viral, or all manner of other ways that could turn into crisis, the temptation may be to act like it never happened. To your devoted fans, however, burying your head about something is disheartening. Own up to it. Apologize and move on to a more positive aspect of what you do.

Misuse the Automatic Response               

In particular social media crises, a social account may be inundated with tweets or questions with regards to the incident. While posting an overarching apology and brand message is a good idea during the crisis, sending out an auto-response to every tweet or message can really rub people the wrong way.

If you’re unable to attend to each message individually, you may not need to. If you must respond to every message, try to find a way to use humor or other authentic communication methods. Everyone lightens up when a brand doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Promo Tweets at the Worst Time

One of the easiest ways to handle social media is to bulk load messages and schedule them accordingly. But, if your brand is in the middle of a social media crisis or some other backlash, the last thing you want to do is to continue posting sales related content that is obviously pre-scheduled. A tweet promoting a product that is causing an uproar is a definite sign that you’re not paying attention.

Social media communication is as important as person-to-person communication. You would hope that representatives from your organization wouldn’t react negatively, emotionally, carelessly, or mindlessly in a meeting or event with your customers.


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