For brands, there’s perhaps nothing more daunting than the virality of social media. Careless posts, tweets and video can go to newsfeeds, be retweeted, shared, and captured in screenshots faster than the human hand can hit “delete.”

Here are ten large-scale lessons learned in 2012 that we can all use to drive service and social media response forward in 2013:

Personal Posts on Brand Accounts Don’t Mix

1. A KitchenAid staffer posted this poorly-punctuated, poor-judgment tweet about President Obama’s deceased grandmother during the first presidential debate:

2. A StubHub staffer was obscenely happy it was Friday and that he was leaving work – presumably after this tweet (edited for this blog post), for the last time:

Never Take Advantage of Others’ Misfortunes

3. The Gap was among many brands who incorporated sales in relation to Hurricane Sandy:

4. From Sears:

5. Urban Outfitters’ free shipping deal tweet during the deadly storm:

6. President’s Choice:

7. This Celeb Boutique tweet drew an angry response, naturally so, following the Aurora shooting:

Rethink Robo-Responses

8. A high-profile example of automated disappointment comes from Progressive, best known for its lovable, empathetic and chatty spokesperson, FLO. For every individual who reached out to Progressive through Twitter about the company’s actions surrounding a recent driving death court case, the company replied again and again with a robo-post:

Be Careful What You Tweet For

9. McDonalds’ promoted hashtag #McDStories went viral, just not the way the company hoped for. Instead of sharing McDonalds’ food favorites, the stories took a turn for the worse:

Don’t Just Tweet About Service, Make It So

10. Time Warner Cable found that sometimes, it’s not just your average customer tweeting for service. Sir Patrick Stewart, who had recently moved to Brooklyn, became frustrated with the wait time for getting cable installed in his apartment, so he took to the Twitter-sphere to voice his new-customer discontent:

Time Warner Cable responded to the post within two minutes, a fantastic response time for customer service on social media:

But the next day, they re-engaged on the very public channel without having provided the service Stewart needed:

In the coming days, Stewart finally brought the conversation stream, and his account, to a close in front of his more than 180,000 followers:

The saying is very true that we can all learn from our mistakes, and the above examples provide some valuable lessons regarding the importance of service, response and responsibility on social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels have become powerful tools for brands to better connect with and serve consumers. Remember that with every social interaction, your brand’s reputation hangs in the balance. Tweet and post responsibly.