You can plan for the future all you want, but sometimes there’s no telling what’s going to happen. It’s amazing how different the reactions will be to the exact same Twitter post – one group could love it, another group could be totally indifferent and ignore it, and yet another group could be wildly offended.

tweet birdThere’s not telling until it’s out there. Even the most innocuous tweets have the potential to “go rogue” and get you into trouble. There’s no use in getting angry, either, as that can only make things worse, especially if you say what’s really on your mind. The only thing you can do is react and try to fix everything.

But what can you do to set things right? Here are some ideas.

Figure Out if Maybe They’re Right

The first thing you should do is figure out if there’s any merit to what people are saying. Your first instinct might be to rail against popular opinion or even a rogue element, but there is a chance you’re wrong. It’s important to figure out if this is the case.

For example, let’s say you sent out a tweet that congratulates a local company in the community on their new product. You thought it was innocent enough – something along the lines of “Congrats to Paul’s Sporting Goods – you’re really ‘shooting with both barrels!’”

It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, you were unaware there was a shooting that’s still pretty fresh on the minds of citizens in the community. While it was obviously unintentional, it seems a little crass in the minds of your fans.

Always Helps to Apologize

Ignorance isn’t an excuse. No matter what happened, your fault or not, apologizing is always a good idea. Offended fans generally aren’t going to take a minute to think of your side of the story, and you need to get it out there that you didn’t mean anything by it.

Of course being sincere is key. This isn’t time to try out your next comedy routine or attempt sarcasm as in “We’re SO SORRY all of you got offended by our last post.” If you care about your customers, which hopefully you do, you should feel bad they feel bad, end of story.

Doing this separates you from a large portion of businesses out there on Twitter. They just don’t think to do this step. Their ego gets in the way. Don’t let yours.

Make Amends

If the post is bad enough (or if people are truly offended enough) it’s probably best to go ahead and kill the rogue tweet. Naturally some people will say “you’re trying to cover up what you did!” but leaving it up is worse as it almost makes you seem complicit. Plus, it potentially increases the chance others will see it.

Now it’s time to try and figure out what you can do to make up for the gaffe. Again, this isn’t about blame or fairness – it’s about preserving your customer base, period. If you want them to stick around, you listen to what they have to say and try to make up for making them mad.

So in the above example you could make a donation to a crime victim’s charity or fundraiser to make up for the slip. Or you could spend time rather than money by volunteering for a worthy community cause. This could end up being a huge opportunity – continuing to volunteer could wind up bringing you even more customers down the line.

Have you ever had a Twitter post go rogue? How did you fix the problem?