Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lessons from a social media fail

Earlier today, the Freeman posted a question on its Facebook page that was in poor taste.
I know.

So the post was criticized. The editor who posted it (who is very sorry about this, by the way) apologized in the post. But we took the whole thing down to prevent it from offending more people, as it was being shared as well. And we apologized in a new post.
Normally, we're not inclined to erase posts because doing so can give the impression that one is trying to hide from a mistake. But this is a case in which the gains from being transparent by leaving it were outweighed by the offense.
It is in the interests of transparency and to share some lessons that I'm posting this.

So, if you mess up:
* Take the post down to prevent it from spreading further and doing more damage.
* Quickly acknowledge your mistake and apologize in a new post.
* Don't rationalize. Don't bury the lede. When you mess up, say so.
* Check your other networks and trace those shares (and screengrab tweets) and apologize directly.
* Don't engage on negative back and forth. It's your mistake. Own it.
* And move on.