Social media is a powerful tool. It can be used to reach thousands of people with just the touch of a screen. This power also makes it an incredibly dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Even in the right hands, social media can go hilariously and devastatingly wrong.
Obviously. However, sometimes it can happen by accident. How can this ever be an accident? Mislabeled pictures, a social media person logged into their personal account by mistake, a slip of a mouse click. It can happen. Just ask American Airlines. The best way to deal with this is to take it down immediately. Then address it. There is absolutely no chance that no one will have seen it. Businesses spend a lot of time and money building their social media presence, so when something goes wrong, it is always seen. Addressing the fail and dealing with it gracefully and with humility is the best way. Simply perform a mea culpa and apologise. Don’t dress it up in excuses, denial or blame, just be honest and move on.
We get it, you want to be approachable and personable on social media. Dan from Optus proved that showing a human side is a strong way to build your brand. However, he wasn’t attempting to paint Optus as a brand for the people, he was just reacting in a human way to a complaint that wasn’t going away. He didn’t post his comments in a vacuum, they were in response to messages addressed to his company and he wasn’t espousing his opinions for the world. Your followers aren’t interested in your opinions or your problems; they’re interested in theirs. That’s how the business/consumer relationship works. Regardless of what is going on at home, you have to be the best version of your work-self at all times. Remain professional, address the comments of your followers and don’t bring your private self into the equation. Dan from Optus is always Dan from Optus when on the company account. He isn’t Dan from 12 Smith St, Dan with the marital problems, or Dan who beat his favourite video game over the weekend and wanted to share the video on the company’s Twitter feed.
This is a grey area and some businesses have a different view of what constitutes swearing. Your multi-channel retail partners Amazon and eBay wouldn’t even utter the mildest profanity on social media and in many ways this is probably the best approach. Everybody has their own threshold for offence and the danger of trying to run a business is that your own relaxed demeanour might not necessarily mesh with your entire audience. It is better to play it safe and refrain from the darns and the hecks as much as the 100 proof ones.
You never know who is reading your social media output and who they will tell. Where is gets tricky is when people swear at your business, on Twitter especially. Facebook has built-in profanity filters, however Twitter has no such safeguards. It makes it difficult to address the tweet without highlighting its content and exposing your followers to the bad language. The key here is to take the discussion out of the public forum. If you must quote their tweet, censor the language in your reply. You can’t change what they wrote, but you can prevent it being repeated.