Social media sites provide a terrific opportunity to connect with clients, potential customers and current buyers. But they also have the potential to cause trouble. It seems every other day a large company’s social media account makes headlines for the wrong reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bad typo in a tweet. Other times the offense is much more severe and causes serious damage to the brand.

Whether you’re in the plumbing or the holistic alcohol recovery business, here are some tips for how to recover from a social media disaster.
Figure Out the Damage
First, ask yourself this important question: What damage has been done? If you made a typo in a tweet, even if it was a swear word, chances are there will be no real consequences to your mistake. People may even laugh about it; we’ve all had our own auto-correct or tiny keyboard problems. If the glitch was minor, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and move on.
If it was a major no-no, however, like libeling a competitor or making a joke about a storm that killed hundreds of people (and yes, both of those have happened), you’ll need to be more proactive.
Setting the Right Tone
The first thing you should do, before you even issue an official apology, is figure out what your strategy will be. Have a short, to-the-point meeting to discuss what happened and how it could impact your brand. Then go into apology mode.
Offer an explanation of what went wrong, but be brief – the fewer details, the better, otherwise people will spend too much time analyzing your misstep. Then hammer the apology. Say there’s no excuse for this sort of behavior. If the perpetrator has been fired, make that clear. Emphasize the traits of your business that have made you trustworthy for so long.
Never Again
Now comes the most important part: Make sure this never happens again. You don’t have to fire anyone if the error was a mistake and not someone trying to make a bad joke or intentionally sabotaging your account. Instead figure out what you can take from this experience, and put in place new guidelines and rules that will prevent it from recurring.
Some companies restrict who has access to social media accounts, so that people with bad judgment won’t be posting without oversight. Others put just one person in charge of the accounts to maintain a consistent voice and reduce the likelihood of a PR nightmare building up again. Whatever you decide to go with, make sure the policy is enforced and that everyone in your company understands it. Then stop worrying and feel confident in your new marketing strategy.