“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” At the time Winston Churchill uttered those words I doubt he considered that he would be contributing to the world of social media. In fact, in his time ‘twitter’ meant to utter successive chirping noises. Fast forward to the 21st century and everything lives and dies on social media. Everyone wants to have the next trending topic and be the first to break the next big story. This content creation generation that we live in can at times be a double-edged sword.
Google the term ‘social media fail.’ What do you see? 154,000,000 results. That’s a lot of issues that public relations executives simply would not have had to deal with 10 years ago. This is the doubled-edged sword I am referring to. Social media has increased the visibility of many organizations by leaps and bounds. This is why we need to be careful. The person that is moderating your social media speaks for your brand. When you Google your company name the last thing you want to see besides it is #fail.
So now you ask, how do we stay away from the dreaded #fail? It is easy.
- Do your homework. The solutions, issues, and lessons are out there. It is your job to learn from them. Study the epic fails. What did they have to do to come back from it. Have they come back from it? Knowing this information can help you not only learn from someone else’s experiences but it may open your eyes to a way of dealing with a situation that you would have never thought of.
- Plan ahead. Plan your social media posts and framework in advance. Taking on the task of planning this out allows more time in the future to continue the conversation on the social networks. Of course when a hot topic is trending you simply cannot plan ahead. However, what you can do is your homework on the topic before you post. You may also actually have something in the queue that is relevant to the trending topic that you could bump up.
- Double check. Before any posting material, know what you are posting. It seems simple but it makes a difference. Double check things that are controllable such as tone, links, punctuation and spelling. Even if you have checked previously give it another look before you post. Also, double-check what is not controllable such as the trending topic that you are commenting on. Do not make the same mistake as Celeb Boutique with their #Aurora social media fail. They forgot the homework and did not do much planning for what would come next.
We are working in a content era where everything has a very short shelf life. The mistakes are being made by professionals around the world on a daily basis. Now I leave it to you. Would you rather make the mistake yourself, potentially losing your job and hurting the company’s image? Or, would you rather take the advice of Sir Winston Churchill and study the past to build the future? I choose the latter.
Read my original guest blog post on the Eastern Michigan University PRSSA blog: http://emuprssa.com/2012/11/06/guest-blog-don-mclean-know-the-past-to-look-ahead/