What is your policy for major social/Internet faux pas made about your brand by employees?
1. Say ‘I’m Sorry’
The only “policy” we have is to own up to the mistake and apologize for doing something inappropriate. At our size — eight employees — we need to handle issues on a case-by-case basis. If our team can learn from a mistake and be accountable, that’s normally enough for a second chance.
– Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
2. Own Up to It
Give them peace by apologizing and taking some sort of action to rectify the situation. However, don’t specifically state the things you did wrong because then you’re admitting full guilt. Many times you’re not 100 percent wrong. Even though they say the customer is always right, that’s just the mentality. If you show too much weakness, some people will take you to the cleaners, unfortunately.
– Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee
3. Address Potential Underlying Issues
Mistakes are never fun, especially when broadcasted to the world, but they happen. I ask why something happened, not just what happened, and work to correct underlying issues. If the situation calls for it, I believe in offering full transparency via the same social channel where the faux pas occurred. Every mistake is an opportunity to address gaps in our process, the team structure or knowledge.
– Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting
4. Learn From the Mistake and Move On
Figure out what went wrong, and build a system to prevent it. Apologize. Whatever you do, don’t fire the person who made the mistake. I’m reminded of the story about IBM’s CEO Tom Watson. He once called an executive into his office after the man’s project lost IBM $10 million. The executive thought he was being fired, but Watson said, “Fired? Hell, I spent $10 million educating you.”
– Emerson Spartz, Spartz
5. Consult a PR Firm
Anyone trying to build a brand should consider investing in a relationship with a professional public relations firm. Crises happen, but having communications professionals with experience in handling crises is sometimes the only way to recover from (and take advantage of) major faux pas by rogue employees.
– Michael Seiman, CPXi
6. Don’t Allow Inappropriate Language
Just as racist, homophobic or sexist language isn’t tolerated in our workplace, we don’t tolerate it on our employees’ social media accounts either. If someone made this kind of public statement, we’d probably take it as a sign they aren’t a good culture fit for our team.
– Laura Roeder, LKR Social Media
7. Look at It as a Gift
When our brand makes a major social/Internet faux pas, our policy is to be swift, direct and honest. I’ve found that when you’re able to step up and take responsibility for a mistake, however egregious, you have the opportunity to share a human side of the brand, which neutralizes damage that might otherwise be damaging. Mistakes can be gifts, if not a chance for more brand affinity.
– Mary Ray, MyHealthTeams
8. Always Respond