Social Media Typo Anonymous: 3 Ways to Recover
Hi, my name is Gessenia Votta and I am a PR social media manager. My last typo was over two months ago, while sharing a blog on Facebook about how the Vatican announced the Pope was stepping down from a PR perspective – and I got caught red-handed by a Facebook user. I proceeded to delete the comment entirely within three minutes of the initial posting, which also removed the user’s snarky comment that called out my mistake.
I woke up the next morning filled with shame. This user continued to take a snap shot of this mishap and posted the image on every other corresponding social media channel – Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ - exposing my mistake and even worse, my cover up. That said, I have been typo free ever since (accepts token).
Repeat: “Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; and the courage to respond quickly to those who catch my mistakes publicly moving forward.” PR 101
We've all read stories about major corporations who have pushed the “publish” button and suffered great public scrutiny for a typo, or for a post lacking in good judgment. Luckily in my PR crisis, the following on all these channels was significantly less and the mistake was a matter of a misplaced letter. Regardless, it goes to show that no matter what account, how big or small, social media is LIVE and there are people tuned in.
All joking aside, I very much feel like I am a recovering addict or have recently been in a car accident. You know the feeling, playing back the situation in your head and feeling like you never want to drive again? The fact is, accidents are going to happen, and you will learn from them, trust me. But the sign of a true PR professional is in how you respond to that mistake. Like a car accident, you call the police, file the report and pay your dues to fix the dent – yesterday’s news. You don’t speed away in a hit and run and avoid your warrant for arrest, which will only create more of a problem for yourself. PR professionals need to practice what they preach to their clients. As my old PR professor would say, "Tell the truth. Tell it all, and tell it fast."
Here are 3 ways to recover from a typo on social media, from a “user” herself.
- Own it, quickly – As much as I hated admitting it, the likelihood of that user posting my mistake on all the other channels like a wall of shame would have been smaller if I responded, rather than deleting the post. While the user’s comment was ugly, a simple “thank you for pointing that out” would have sufficed. If I had addressed the comment right away, the user wouldn't have felt the need to go to such lengths to prove his/her point.
- Keep it short and keep it sweet – While an answer was most certainly warranted, less is more. A big explanation would have left me equally vulnerable. Not to mention, in my case the user was under the impression the content I shared was derogatory toward the church, when in fact it discussed the strategy of how the church communicated its recent news from a PR perspective (the user obviously didn’t read the post). If I had tried to justify that statement, it would have lead into more of a conversation in the public eye. Not a good idea.
- Block them (kidding). Accept it – Even if you didn’t make a mistake, what’s published on social media is fair game and everyone has different tolerance levels (especially when it comes to hot topics like religion and politics). While you invite people to comment, like and tweet, you take the risk of getting an answer you might not like. Don't take things personally and keep your head held high.
It might be PR career stupidity that I am admitting this mistake. Or perhaps I'm a PR genius. After all, transparency is key... right? Now it's your turn to share (anonymous or not) - have you made a big “uh-oh” on social media? How did you survive? Life goes on, amen for that.