This week, we’ve got a guest blog from Agorapulse, who talks about how your small business can avoid social media fails.

Back in the good ole days, a single mistake normally wasn’t enough to shift how people viewed your business. Maybe you’d lose a customer here or there, but unless the mistake was truly egregious, you’d probably be just fine.

Now if you make any type of misstep, the whole world just might find out. An in-store mistake would only be seen by two or three people after all—an online misstep can be seen by thousands in seconds.

Social media fails, in particular, can spread like wildfire. Whether you’ve made a public mistake or used a hashtag that had a double meaning (we’ve all been there, right? Or at least we’ve all seen it?), you know social media missteps are not fun and should be avoided at all costs.

In this post, we’re going to take a close look at six foolproof ways to avoid social media fails.

Do your research

The biggest thing you can do to mitigate the risk of social media fails is to do your research. Take a look at what kinds of disasters have already happened and how brands handled them. This is pretty easy to do since a Google search of “social media fails” pulls up several lists with plenty of great examples. You’ll see everything from PR nightmares (United Airlines) to a simple bad choice of words (Adidas accidentally recalling the 2013 bombing when saying “Congrats, you survived the marathon!”).

Social media fails: Not a good choice of words

You should also do your research for every major campaign decision that your brand is making on social media. Do your hashtag research so you don’t accidentally jump in on a topic your brand really doesn’t want to be associated with.

If you’re using vernacular you’re unsure of to “sound like the cool kids” like #YOLO or FOMO—which typically is not a great idea if you aren’t familiar with it—then check sites like Urban Dictionary to make sure you’re using it correctly and you fully understand what it means. Sometimes it’s beneficial to check Urban Dictionary when creating your custom hashtag, too, to make sure you aren’t using phrases you didn’t know existed.

Double check everything

This goes hand-in-hand with “research everything.” You should double check all your posts for everything from spelling errors—which can make you look less professional—to factual errors, which can wreck your credibility.

Social media fails: poetry tweet.

Want to share a statistic about how your exercise program truly is superior? Read the full case study you’re linking to because you know someone else will. If Facebook helped you by auto-captioning your videos, you should take a look at those, too, to ensure that the translation is accurate and doesn’t contain offensive language.

Check everything. Check your facts, especially, because you know who loves to point out when other people are wrong? About 99% of all social media users and they like to do it publicly.

Monitor what people are saying 

This may sound a little Orwellian, but people’s public posts are free game. Having an idea of what people are saying not only to you but about you be extremely beneficial. You’ll be able to gauge the general sentiment of your brand and your social media presence. Since people may take to complaining about your brand or mocking your content off your actual profiles, it’s good to be able to still watch out for it.

Mention is one of my favorite tools for this. They’ll let you know every single time your brand name, profiles, and/or hashtags are used publicly on social media. You’ll always be up to date about what people are saying. And just in case you do have a social media fail, the tool also works well for crisis management.   

Social media fails: Mention is a great tool

Keep an eye on interactions

Angry customers are like a ticking time bomb. If you get to them in time and turn the situation around, everything will be fine. If they go unnoticed and unattended, it will be disastrous.

Bad customer service spreads fast

Monitor every comment and every message diligently—including the comments made on your ads. Agorapulse is currently the only social management software that allows you to see every single comment on your Facebook Ads so you can find disgruntled customers and handle the situation immediately. You can also assign team members tasks like specific messages or comments, so no one slips through the cracks.

Agorapulse in action

Sometimes even one annoyed customer complaining on your ads will be enough to sink your conversion rates and have a very real impact on your business. Keep this in mind.


Complaints can damage your adverts

Roll with the punches

Look, eventually, if your business is big enough, something will go wrong. A mistake will be made, because no matter how many times we double check, we’re all human. If you can adapt and recover, you’ll keep a small misstep from snowballing quickly into a situation that you’ll see on one of those “Biggest Social Fails in 2017” lists.

Sometimes this will mean apologizing sincerely. Sometimes it will mean having a sense of humor instead of getting worked up, working a situation to your advantage. A great example of this is when Google’s automatic system incorrectly attributed an offensive slogan to Greggs Bakery. Greggs used it to their advantage, and were able to get publicity out of the situation thanks to a sense of humor.

Both Greggs and Google ended up walking away looking good instead of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Keep staff on the same page

If you’re able to keep your social media staff trained and up to date on product information, company guidelines, and social policies, you’ll be good to go. This means knowing how to resolve customer issues, and understanding where to go for product information.

Responding quickly can help.

I was once working on a project where a fellow social staff member told a customer that a whole line of products were vegan and gluten free; they were neither. We caught in time and remedied the situation, but that could have ended much worse than it did. This is a severe case—with someone potentially falling very ill—but the sentiment will be true across most businesses. Maybe your warranty doesn’t cover a certain type of damage, or there is a limit on how often your client can ask you do update the tax returns.


Using social management software like Agorapulse (pictured above) can help with this. Team members can review each other’s work, and can assign tasks or ask for help if they feel stumped. It really will be a team effort instead of three or more people having a free-for-all that’s much more difficult to monitor. 

Final thoughts

Social media fails may not seem like forever, but thanks to their heightened visibility and users’ love of screenshots for proof, it’s definitely better to avoid them whenever possible. Remember these six essential steps to mitigating risks of a social fail, and your business is a lot more likely to stay in the clear.