Dealing With Your Social Media Mistakes

Dealing With Your Social Media Mistakes

“I was born to make mistakes not to fake perfection.” – Drake

I recently wrote a blog, “How to Deal With the Bad and Ugly Comments on Social Media”, which looked at how to deal with the any negative comments that you may receive on your social media pages. But what if you’re the one making the faux pas? How do you come back from that?

In this instance, I’m not talking about grammatical errors or using too many hashtags. That’s for another post.

Firstly, remember that you’re only human. Most of the mistakes I come across are extremely small and stem from having the confidence to try stuff out.  In many cases, mistakes can humanise our businesses, which add to the story and personality that we’re trying to convey.


One of my favourite examples, included in  – which also highlights that these things happen to big brands as well as small ones – comes from the supermarket chain, Waitrose. In September 2012, they invited their twitter followers to finish this sentence “I shop at Waitrose because…” The idea of the exercise was to encourage customers to praise their shops, e.g. their service or range of products. What they received was largely anything but that and the tweets that followed included:

“I shop at Waitrose because Clarrisa’s pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA Value straw.”

“I shop at Waitrose because I don’t like being surrounded by poor people.”

“I shop at Waitrose because the toilet paper is made from 24ct gold thread. (Unless it’s the Essentials range)”

“I shop at Waitrose because I want to prove to Jeremy Kyle that I am not a 21-year-old dole scrounging father-of-two.”

“I shop at Waitrose because when the economy finally breaks down and dies, those little green tokens will serve as currency”

….and many more along these lines. Waitrose conceded that the marketing tactic largely failed, with this ‘graceful in defeat’ tweet:

Although, as I said, in my opinion it was both harmless and funny. If there’s one thing social media likes, it’s funny. I don’t believe any reputational damage was done in this instance.

Miracle Mattress

One of the worst offenders, was San Antonia, TX, based, Miracle Mattress, who produced a video to promote their “Twin Price Sale”. The feature of their sale? The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. See it for yourself…

The data shows that the video has had over 9 million views – and there are many businesses who would love that – with additional media coverage across the US. Also, of the c. 5000 reviews on their Facebook page, over 4,700 of them rated them as just 1 star. I’m sure that’s more to do with the video than poor service, but that’s social media for you. This was in September 2016, so time will tell what long term impact this had on the business. I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t even an unexpected spike in sales around this time.

Action Points

Assuming that you don’t go all Miracle Mattress, or The Shed, on your followers, this is what you can do if you share content or a comment that, on reflection wasn’t the best idea:

  1. Take a moment – Not too long, but long enough to assess the damage first. Talk to someone about it to get their opinion on the severity of the error.
  2. Say sorry – You’re only human, so accept your mistake and apologise gracefully. The worst mistake you could make, is pretending a mistake wasn’t there in the first place.
  3. Rebuild Your Image – Jessica Stillman summed this up best when she wrote “Your brand can survive a social media disaster, many have, but it may be an extensive process and at the very least, take time.”
  4. Seek support – If you’re in a whole and don’t know how to get out of it, then get help.

What are your other favourite social media mistakes? How would you have dealt with the Waitrose or Miracle Mattress actions?


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