If you are active on social media, you may have encountered some of the worst brand fails. As an example, whenever there is a major event such as the death of a pop icon or a major international political scandal, brands are tempted to jump on trending topics or hashtags and share their own takes. This can often backfire, earning criticism and even negative reviews of your business. Here are five ways to avoid embarrassing brand mistakes on social media:
1. Resist The Urge To Insert Your Product Insensitively
When people are mourning the loss of a cultural icon or shocked in the wake of a major catastrophe, it’s best not to insert your product ham-fistedly into the conversation. When pop icon Prince died, for example, countless brands referenced his famous hit ‘Purple Rain’ by sharing purple product images, direct quotes or tributes. This can read as insincere and trying to gain attention on the back of a tragic event, and can draw followers’ wrath.
2. Guage The Tone Before You Share
During a frustrating event, such as an area-wide electricity blackout, a humorous tweet or Facebook post that references the situation can work. Because this type of event doesn’t involve death or loss, it’s easier to make light of the situation without causing offence. Always guage the tone of an event and consider whether your social media post could put people’s backs up my making light of (or trying to capitalise on) a serious situation.
3. Don’t Reach Too Hard To Make An Event About Your Brand
It’s often embarrassing when brands take major events completely unrelated to their product or image and try to name-check themselves in social media posts. For example, when David Bowie died the shoe brand Crocs shared a picture of a plain pair of Crocs with Bowie’s famous lightning bolt symbol superimposed. There wasn’t any obvious connection between the rock icon and the product Crocs were promoting. This drew understandable criticism.
4. Don’t Imitate The Social Media Methods Of Big Brands Without Help
Sometimes small businesses attempt to follow big brands’ leads and reference current affairs and trending topics. Yet big brands have social media agencies and experts advising them on what to share and how to make their content fit their brand. If you do think a major event is relevant to your brand and you should post about it, make sure you run your post past social media strategists first.
5. Maintain Internal Guidelines That Will Avoid Social Media Don’ts
To avoid major social media ‘don’ts’, it’s best to maintain internal guidelines that state what content may be shared and what is off-limits. It’s best to get help from an agency in putting together content guidelines that will keep you clear of controversy.
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