We’ve been told that customer interaction is paramount and that social media is the perfect platform to allow a free-flowing forum of conversation between your company and your clients.

Last week we gave you some tips for using Social Media.

But what about the risks in giving your customers such a public sounding board?

A concern for a lot of companies regards a lack of control over this forum.

“What if we get negative comments/feedback?”
“What if we make a mistake?”
“How to we handle enquiry in such a public forum?”

This can all be a little daunting especially if your social media platforms get a lot of traction – it can be hard to just keep up!

Simply put though, all feedback should be welcomed.

Positive or not, allowing your customers to come to you with questions, concerns or better still recommendations and positive testimonials, can only serve to help you better cater to their needs and tailor your business model to ensure you are performing at an optimum level.

What do you do when things go wrong?

This week, we look at examples of social media mistakes by some well-known corporations.


A couple of years back, Qantas launched a twitter campaign with the hashtag #qantasluxury – giving followers the chance to 50 first-class amenity/pyjama packs. All they had to do was describe their “dream luxury in-flight experience”.

Unfortunately the timing of this campaign came just a day after Qantas grounded it’s fleet amid union negotiations – leaving thousands of customers stranded an angry.
What they didn’t expect was the barrage of sarcastic and condensing tweets that followed, all utilising their hashtag. This then evolved to tweets criticising the campaign itself. #socialmediafail

Qantas underestimated the power of social media and needed tighter controls on how and when a campaign was released.
Had more attention and resources been allocated to social media marketing, the issue could have been largely avoided. I’m certain that since this incident, things have been re-evaluated over at HQ to provide more support.

On the positive side, Qantas has now received some fairly direct market research data about how the public feels (and it was free).

Remember customer service before becoming too ‘matey’

Social media is a great way to connect and interact with potential customers in a more relaxed environment compared to the standard sales call. But don’t forget the basics of fixing the problem first before you get friendly with irate followers – give your customers some credit – a flippant response without a solution won’t cut in here.







Absent social media strategy + slow response

One thing we like to say is that social media is fantastic, but it won’t work for you unless you USE it. You cannot expect social media to be fruitful if you don’t feed it and be present.
That said, you also need to be smart and have a strategy in place.

Coles is a MASSIVE corporation – but unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily  equate to smart strategy in the social media space. After Coles engaged the Twittersphere to finish the following sentence: “in my house it’s a crime not to buy…”  followers instead responded with negative comments including remarks regarding unfair pressure on local producers which fell on deaf ears.

Next a negative comment on their Facebook page criticising the corporation for putting pressure on dairy farmers in order to keep milk prices low, received more than 73,000 likes and 4,000 comments.
Coles took over 2 days to response to the comment – which is too slow considering that both incidents occurred within a few months of each other.
It suggests that Coles did not have a plan for how to deal with negative feedback in social media.

When your social media team go rogue

Your employees represent your company, and if they have a solid, credible personal brand, it will carry over to the company’s image.
It’s not enough just to encourage your employees to have social media accounts – you need to show them how to use them.

Employee training and the induction of a social media policy for professional and personal use (and perhaps a little more diligence and closer attention paid by the user themselves)  could have avoided this hiccup over at the Red Cross.


The Red Cross had quick response and dealt with the rogue tweet with efficiency and humour, acknowledging their mistake and potential PR disaster.
It actually also resulted in “Dogfish” beer urging their own followers to donate funds to the Red Cross. #silverlining


So you can see that despite the size of these HUGE corporations – businesses are continually making mistakes on social media.

However, this doesn’t mean you should be scared to get on board.

It’s about being aware of the risks and expecting potential hiccups and pit-falls – and being prepared to handle these situations. 

When it comes down to it, it is less about the mistake made, and more about the reaction that came after.
After all, there is a considerable pool of potential customers out there – can you afford not to be talking to them?



MONITOR your social media sites everyday

EDUCATE your employees on proper messaging

REPLY to social media reaction to real-time events

SPEED + CONSISTENCY Respond to comments and queries quickly with a consistent message

STRATEGY Have a strategy for crisis management, allocate a team and access the situation to develop a plan. Take the time to develop a response, consider messaging and tone of voice