How to Turn Social Media Mistakes Into Customer Advocacy

Almost every brand in existence is going to try hard to keep their brand perception aimed in a positive direction. How your brand is perceived is the reality of your brand, like it or not, and thus a large part of any marketer’s time is going to be spent in the realm of public relations in hopes of avoiding any big mistakes.

Though what do you do if you happen to make a mistake? A lot of brands go into panic mode, and even if they get things straightened out it all ends up so messy. Some brands just fold under the pressure and can’t seem to climb their way out of the hole. Some brands, however, take that huge lump of black coal and transform it into a diamond. Some are able to turn their social mistakes into actual customer advocacy.

Here are some tips that will help you turn your brand mistakes into legitimate opportunities to retain customer support.

Tips for Transforming Your Mistakes Into Tactics for Gaining Support

1: Be Willing to Admit Your Mistakes

Showing that you’re actually human and are prone to mistakes is one of the best—and first—things you should do if you manage to screw the pooch. Look at a brand like Chrysler for a great example. They had a tweet come from their account that insulted Detroit, dropped the F-bomb, and that was all-around rude and unbecoming of a global brand.

Instead of hiding from it, they embraced what had happened and showed a lot of humility in their apology. Even though it wasn’t an official tweet and was actually a big mix-up, they still accepted full responsibility and sent out a heartfelt apology. You can learn from this and understand that mistakes happen. In fact, people expect them to happen. Offering up a real, humbling apology can actually endear customers to you.

2: Laugh Your Way Out

Sometimes a little humor can get you out of a bad situation, even if humor is what got you into that situation in the first place. The American Red Cross is a good example here. Someone tweeting from their account stated that a member of their organization had found some beer, and that “when we drink we do it right.” This sparked some outrage, and even though it was meant to be funny, people were very upset with the brand.

Instead of groveling and sending out the usual “I’m sorry” message, ARC did something that many brands can learn from. They used humor to get back in the good graces of the public. They sent out, “The American Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” This in itself didn’t solve the issue, but it was the first step to lightening the mood. Some lightheartedness can do that for you in a similar situation.

3: Focus On Your Existing Base

When you make any social media mistakes, the key to building customer advocacy is to really stick with your existing customers base. Instead of being a brand that puts out new advertisements targeted to new customers, simply show some more appreciation to the people who were already your customers.

Loyal customers are going to help you create more customers, so if you do make a mistake, keep your apologies and other efforts aimed at your existing base in particular and not to the public at large. A broad apology seems too generic, whereas specific penance is able to hit the target.

4: Monitor the Channels

Some of the worst mistakes that happen in social media are mistakes that you weren’t even aware you made. Maybe you created a funny post to draw people in and it ended up offending people, but you didn’t even hear about it until a month or so later once the backlash was severe.

You can avoid this type of thing by monitoring the different social channels. Regularly search who and what your brand’s name is associated with, and the same goes for any hashtags you’re using. Catch mistakes before they turn into something you can’t control.

5: Always Learn from Mistakes

Building customer advocacy is every brand’s mission in the long run. You want customers who are willing to go to bat for you and spread the word about your services. So rather than letting a mistake get in the way of that, you should learn from your mistakes and understand what you can do better in the future.

When you make a mistake, customers are going to let you know why they’re upset and what you can do to fix it. Take their advice and actually listen to their complaints. Adjusting your brand to meet the customers’ expectations will help to keep them around.

Some fans and customers are always going to hit the road whether you make or mistake or not. So thinking you can keep your entire base happy isn’t realistic. However, if you’re willing to actually atone for your mistakes and double-down on your customer appreciation, the people who really care about your brand will stand by it and help to promote you despite your failings.

Simon Campbell, a writer from a facebook ad campaign tool – Qwaya.He loves to write different topics about social media and participates in some communities and forums. If you have more social media marketing questions, feel free to ask Simon on Twitter.

Simon Campbell


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