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Lessons from a Social Media disaster.


Ever tweeted something you shouldn’t have on Twitter and had a bad reaction from other tweeters? Ever misjudged your followers so much that an advert meant to trigger interest has had the opposite effect? These are just two of many different types of social media disaster that can befall someone. For the casual social media user, it’s not a disaster, you delete what you’ve written and you start again but for businesses any kind of social media disaster could spell trouble. What we need is a full proof guide to prevent these social media disasters from happening. Here are my three tips to stopping a social media disaster from even happening:

1. Take a breath before you press that all important post button

It’s so easy once you have written something to post it straight away but take a moment to check it and ensure it is not potentially offensive to other people. This is particularly important for businesses when posing an online advert. Recently Marmite published an advert online spoofing the work that pet rescue teams such as the RSPCA do. This received over 250 complaints due to the belief that the advert “trivialises the work of both animal welfare charities and child protection agencies”. This was a disaster that could have been averted with a moments thought about the nature of the advert and whether it would cause offence.

2.Once you have posted something it’s there for ever

I know have posted thing’s on social media that I have regretted in the past. It’s so easy to be tongue in cheek one moment and then completely regret the offence that has been caused. A friend gave me this piece of advice “only post online what you would tell your grandmother in church”. It maybe light hearted but it’s good advice. In these times, you cannot treat anything you post online as private and a few months down the line, that offensive joke may come back to haunt you.

 3. Apologise if anyone has taken offence

This is especially important if your a company. Perhaps someone didn’t take a joke in the way you expected it to be taken. You can still save their custom for another day. It isn’t too late. A customer would much rather you apologised to them rather than suggest that it is the customers fault as they have no sense of humour. A marvellous customer service department can actually turn a bad situation into a good one as the majority of people will only remember the positive outcome.


Sounds unbelievably easy doesn’t it? Well it isn’t! Lots of people are different and even at the best of times you are bound to make mistakes. My advice is aimed mostly at individuals and smaller businesses but with large companies the same advice can be used. A social media disaster is less disastrous that it sounds. Many people either won’t remember it once the next disaster happens, and the people that do will just laugh at it. Happy Social Networking !

Tim Sykes

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