Prevent Social Media Disasters: 7 Best Practices for Consumer-Facing Businesses

It sometimes seems like corporate social media fails happen faster than our ability to report on them. For a whole host of self-evident reasons, it’s important that you fail-proof your own company’s social media presence — or, at least, make it far more difficult for said fails to transpire.

You can begin by deploying these seven best social media practices for consumer-facing businesses.

1. Designate Accountable Parties for All Social Media Accounts

You don’t necessarily need a social media manager. If you do choose to hire one, make sure you do it right — the job market is littered with pretenders.

What you do need is an accountable party in charge of every social media account. This can be the same person across your entire social portfolio, or a designated process owner for each individual account. The buck must stop with them, always.

2. Keep Your Social Profiles Up to Date

One entirely preventable social media fail arises out of neglect: allowing outdated contact details or company descriptions to point your followers in the wrong direction. Follow the lead of companies that regularly update their company details. For example, Bixler University LinkedIn profile contains a comprehensive bio with its website and location details.

3. Tighten Up on Your Account Permissions

Single-point accountability isn’t always enough to prevent lapses. Tighten up social account permissions such that only the accountable party has the ability to access and post to their designated accounts, and use activity logs to keep running track of who’s doing what, when.

4. Review All Scheduled Posts in Advance

Scheduling posts is a great way to reduce your social media workload, provided you retain the same access controls and accountability framework. In particular, you’ll want a trusted employee — perhaps you alone — to review all scheduled posts before they’re set. Scheduled-post misfires can devastate external perceptions of your company’s competency.

5. Reply to Legitimate Mentions — After a Pause

As your brand’s visibility grows, it’ll attract more social media mentions. This is a good problem to have, provided you manage those mentions appropriately. If you follow just one rule of thumb for mention management, let it be this: think before you speak.

Famed burger joint Wendy’s response to IHOP’s June 2018 “International House of Burgers” rebrand is a great example. When a concerned tweeter asked Wendy’s, in essence, if the company was worried about IHOP muscling in on its territory, Wendy’s demurred for a moment, then issued a pitch-perfect response: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.”

The crowd went wild.

6. Adopt and Maintain a “Brand Voice”

The beauty of Wendy’s IHOP response was its consistency with the company’s brand voice: irreverent, even bratty, and most definitely self-assured.

Your company’s brand voice is probably different, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you keep it consistent across your entire social media ecosystem, so that fans and casual followers alike know what to expect.

7. Track Negative Mentions — and Respond Appropriately

No matter how tightly you control your social media persona, nor how well you perform for your customers day in and day out, you’re going to attract negative social mentions every now and again.

Your response could make all the difference. Strike the wrong tone and you’ll make a bad situation worse; hit the right note and you’ll defuse a potential business threat before it metastasizes.

Key to your response is understanding the difference between honest feedback and trolling. You need to respond earnestly to the former and ignore (or report, if warranted) the latter.

What’s Your Social Media Nightmare?

Every business owner has his or her own social media nightmare — a worst-case scenario that upends years of careful branding.

There’s always a chance such an unwelcome outcome could befall your business. But following the best practices outlined here should dramatically reduce its likelihood.