Sandra Ericson|Jul 20, 2012

Have you ever been embarrassed when at a cocktail party, or in the course of one-on-one conversation, you had to admit that you hadn’t the faintest idea of the current event, political gaffe or hot TV show being discussed? For those that are active on social media today, that embarrassment can be amplified exponentially for those that aren’t up to speed – and it can have disastrous affects for affiliated organizations.

With so many recent global tragedies, it seems there is always a social media blunder that calls attention to the potential pitfalls of pressing the send button too quickly without reading the news or having a strong strategy in place.

For example, you may remember the backlash against Kenneth Cole, which used the uprisings in Cairo to make a joke on its Twitter feed about its new spring collection.

To avoid having this happen, there are a few simple things to keep in mind when it comes to social media posting.

#1 Tragedies are NEVER a good time for humor.

In the wake of today’s massacre shooting in Colorado, the NRA sent out a seemingly cavalier tweet at 9:30 a.m.

This could be a nightmare for the NRA who, even without this incident, is bound to answer to the public’s cries for more gun control in the wake of another senseless shooting in the United States. Apparently, the tweeter was not being malicious or dumb; just ignorant. But it didn’t help that the group waited three hours to take it down either.

#2 Never wake and tweet.

Read the news first, every single day. The Today Show from 7-7:30 a.m. is a great source for the top headlines.

#3 Pre-schedule social media messaging for convenience, but not for finality.

Be aware of your posting calendar and follow the same due diligence you would for an impromptu post.

#4 Err on the side of caution

Whenever there is sensitive news making the headlines, such as today, review all your messaging with a team and ensure there is nothing insensitive or that could be taken out of context. Err on the side of caution.

Sensitivity is certainly not something a U.K. retailer cared much about today. In more fashion stupidity, Celeb Boutique posted the following tweet and linked to their site for purchase.

The tweet was obviously in very poor taste, and the brand went on to apologize. Which leads to my last point.

#5 Own your mistakes and apologize for wrong doing if it is clearly so.

Some speculate no one would ever be so heartless and Celeb Boutique’s blunder was the result of bots that scan for trending topics. I can’t think of any reason to use automated tools that send out public-facing messaging without a fail system in place. Don’t do this.

Managing an organization’s social media feeds, not to mention our own, comes with great responsibility. Monitoring the news each morning before posting is only the baseline best practice for ensuring informed posting.

In the end we’re all human and what’s make these events so tragic is because we all have hearts. If an honest mistake occurs, correct it quickly, own up to your actions and make it right. Our thoughts are with those in Colorado tonight.


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