Who among us hasn’t viewed a confusing, inappropriate, or downright appalling post from a once beloved brand on social media?
Answer: Nobody who’s reading this right now!
“De-branding” posts happen on social media every single day. For example, brands like American Apparel have celebrated major national holidays by mistakenly posting pictures of tragic historical events like the 1986 explosion of the Challenger shuttle, and the 7 astronauts that lost their lives that day.
Sure, they said they were sorry, but sometimes the mistakes we make are indelibly etched in the public eye forever. That’s why editing before you post is crucial to avoiding backlash from social justice warriors looking to smite at a moment’s notice, with hair-trigger intensity.
Read through the following social media editing tips down below, and you’ll be far less likely to regret the posts you make from here onward:
Institute an approval process for all posts
Brands need someone with a very objective eye to look over social posts for the company before they’re made. There are countless failed posts that one could point to that lend credibility to this suggestion.
No brand can afford to have their employees recklessly posting whatever they feel like. The employee may lose their job and move on; the brand loses credibility and ultimately has to pay the consequences.
Edit really… really… closely
“Can we has you’re bizness?”
Even the worst spellers out there on social media can tell when certain words don’t look right. And, if they think you’re dumber than they are, do you think they’ll trust you enough to do business with?
Whomever is in charge of editing and post approval needs to be highly-proficient (think English-language-degree level) and they must pay meticulous attention to detail. If no approval process exists, and anyone in the company can post on its behalf, it’s the brand that ultimately pays the piper.
Humor needs to be dealt with VERY carefully
“Anything goes” is not a term that best describes the way humor is handled on the interwebs, circa 2018 and beyond. Virtually any humorous post can be labeled as bigotry or offensive in some way in the modern landscape we live in.
Look at what happened when Home Depot posted what was meant to be a funny image of a gorilla seated between two African Americans, to promote a college game day. Though meant to be innocuous, it ended up sparking weeks of rage-fueled negative social backlash comments and bad press for the company.
In these cases, a very savvy social media manager/editor could have saved the brand from embarrassment. In fact, having the input of a culturally-diverse team of social savvy people lend their opinion can mean the difference between cheeky humor and a torrential downpour of social negativity for your brand.
Toss impulse posts out the window
If you want your brand to look smart and steer clear of trouble, you need to discourage any sort of impulse-driven posting. Even if it means losing out on a breaking story that may go viral. Impulse posting also leads to things like slander and childish battles when insults are made and/or responded to — let things sit for a night and reassess in the morning when such situations arise.
In an effort to turn tragedy into viral dollars — or even to lend support to those in need — many brands jumped on the story and said things that made them look REALLY bad in the social-justice-driven public eye. If every other brand on the planet is posting about something, there’s really no need to get your brand’s voice involved in the shuffle anyhow.
Start building a social posting style cheat sheet early
It’s important to identify words, phrases, and subject matter that should never be used in your social media posts. Profanity, racial slurs, ambiguous phrases — even words like “love” and “hate” need to be tread upon carefully in social media land.
Your IT professional can easily build an algorithm into whatever text editor you use, to pinpoint problem areas that need to be looked at more closely or even axed prior to a more thorough editing effort.
A cheat sheet can also contain general posting style guidelines such as proven engaging topic choices, word count limits, punctuation preferences, ideal image style and size, etc. Nobody’s going to make fun or get angry with you for pre-defining do’s and don’ts!
Heed this advice and you might manage to avoid a branding disaster on social media. Though, nothing is ever guaranteed these days!