Mistakes. They happen. They are going to happen. The best you can hope for is to avoid them as much as possible and minimize their damage. Mistakes. They are what make us human. In social media, mistakes are going to happen. There will be miscommunication, misunderstanding, and failure to recognize opportunities. Should this be the end of the world for your business? No, and it should not be the end of your business’s foray into social media either.
The best way to minimize mistakes is to plan. The best way to minimize the damage from the mistakes is to learn from them. The best way to move forward is to recognize that mistakes can have hidden golden opportunities. The only way to do that is to have a plan.
Social Media Plan
Each interaction in social media needs to belink bio coordinated against a larger plan. This plan is your business’ overall approach to how you are going to use social media. This plan will be adjusted as new initiatives and opportunities to arise. Your social media plan should have the following components:
- Determine who is responsible for initiating, monitoring, and engaging in social media.
- Determine the goal of each message.
- Develop a decision-making model for conversations.
- Develop metrics to be measured for success/failure.
- Develop time frames for each initiative, conversation, and response.
These components will have to fit with the platform you have chosen as your social media platform. That will have a determination on how important each component is. Planning should involve all the key actors for your business. This should include the decision makers all the way down to the communicators that will be implementing your social media plan. This will help your team understand their roles, understand the decision-making model being used, and have the important buy-in by all parties involved. During the planning sessions role-playing should be used to extrapolate the diversity and breadth of potential conversations that can be had. This time can be used to discover where mistakes can be made; test assumptions of your social media plan and help create confidence in the use of the platform you have chosen. Role-playing will help your team be able to identify weaknesses and opportunities when they arise.
What social media planning helps your company do is be prepared for when mistakes happen. They are going to happen. It is in those mistakes that serendipity typically reigns and only well prepared companies are able to turn them into opportunities. Without planning and practice – through role-playing – your company will not even know when a mistake has been made and how to respond to it. Take for example when Kevin Smith, the director, was asked to get off of a Southwest Airlines flight due to his size. He got off and tweeted it immediately. This could have caused a huge firestorm for Southwest Airlines if it did not have a social media plan in place. Since Southwest did have a plan in place it was able to respond quickly and get all the facts out. The result was a healthy conversation about the policies of Southwest and questioned motives of Mr. Smith. The final verdict was left to those witnesses this social engagement and the potential for a bad public relations day was avoided.
The mistake was on both parties. For Southwest, it should not have allowed Mr. Smith to take the earlier flight (it was packed) because of his size and their policy of charging larger passengers for two seats. The flight he was on did not have enough. For Mr. Smith, tweeting about this incident near the release of a new film of his made it look like it was self-serving to get free publicity. The result was healthy education through social media engagement on the policies of Southwest and the steps they took to accommodate Mr. Smith. Both got exposure and both got their side of the incident out. Without planning, the mistake by Southwest would not have been able to be forward leaning to have a conversation about its policies online. It would have had to approach everything in a reactive and defensive mode. Southwest would not have been able to be part of the conversation. Southwest would not have been prepared to respond.