Social users have their own opinions about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to social media best practices. If we want to be fair, there is no right or wrong approach. There are, however, a few notable actions you can embrace and, maybe more importantly, avoid. During a recent Maverick Marketing Monday, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber, Chad Wiebesick (@Wiebesick), director of social media and interactive marketing at Pure Michigan, shared what we all should be paying attention to, as well as a few entertaining examples of what NOT to do on social media.

Even smart people make dumb mistakes: Take it from the American Red Cross. An employee accidentally Tweeted from the @RedCross handle thinking it was their personal handle:

AmericanRedCross-OopsTweet-(1)

Luckily, the Red Cross employee caught the mistake and handled it in a humorous fashion:

AmericanRedCross-FixedTweet

Not all mistakes end such as the Red Cross’. Making a mistake could end up in the loss of followers, loyal customers and credibility, not to mention the potential for job termination. Check out Chrysler’s accidental Tweet that dropped the “F bomb”:

Chrysler-OopsTweet

Chrysler immediately apologized and the person responsible for this Tweet was let go soon after:

Consider these methods when trying to counteract a bad post or Tweet:

  • Try responding and owning up to the mistake
  • In the heat of the moment step back and think about a thoughtful way to approach the situation
  • Sometimes in life, doing nothing is doing something: advocates for your brand may come forward or the problem could work itself out
  • Apologize, and be sincere about it
  • If you’re responding to multiple Tweets, don’t use the same response for all handles
  • And, my favorite – don’t Tweet and drive. Most of us know you should not use any hand-held device while driving for the safety of yourself and drivers around you. Or like Chrysler, you may think you are Tweeting from your personal handle, when you’re actually logged into your corporate one, causing something to go live that wasn’t supposed to. So, for overall safety on all accounts, don’t Tweet and drive

You're putting too much focus on the fans: Although you may be concentrating on the number of fans your page is receiving, you’re also missing the point that some of the fans are not even a target audience for your brand.

Chad explained you always want quality fans over quantity. You want to target fans who will engage in your product and who are interested. If you are just looking for fans to increase numbers, you can essentially just buy fans off of the Internet. Yes, you can buy fans to like your page. Again, these are not quality fans by any means. A better alternative to buying fans and likes is by creating paid ads that will reach the right people. Paid ads assist with reaching new and possibly existing customers who are not currently following your handle. It also helps to be authentic in order to attract new followers. Organic interactions such as responding to new followers, retweeting current followers and non-followers, and commenting on posts will show you are not just looking for a new follower, but genuinely care what others have to say.

Research hashtags before you use them:  You may think you a have a pretty clever hashtag in place for a Tweet, but you may want to do some digging before using it. Unknown to you, it could have a completely different meaning than what you intended.

For example, the handle @celebboutique thought #Aurora was trending from a dress, but really the hashtag was trending for a mass shooting that occurred at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Big mistake here:

CelebBoutique-OopsTweet

Since the meaning of #Aurora was not what was intended, the Tweet was deleted by @celebboutique and a sincere apology was issued.

This is also a reminder to not use a hashtag just because it’s trending. It doesn’t make sense to use a trending hashtag if it doesn’t fit the purpose of the Tweet. There is no rule on Twitter that says all Tweets must use a hashtag.

Create a social media policy: There should be three separate policies in place: employee guidelines, community guidelines for followers and a policy for social media administrators. Employee guidelines should give employees an idea of how they should be interacting on your business page (if at all), so they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them from a social stand point. The same goes for community guidelines. Although you want the outside world interacting with your channels, you want to be sure there are rules in case any behavior pops up that might be cause for alarm, such as customer complaints, Twitter chats gone wrong, or inappropriate comments. Your company’s social media administrators should also have a set of policies to follow that will help align social media messages and conversations with business objectives and goals.

Since you are putting your name and face out on the Internet you will want to ensure you maintain a professional and likeable page for your followers. Remember that mistakes on social media are not always easy to fix, so you will want to have a strong policy in place and always check your work before posting. For more social expertise check out Airfoil’s blog here.