There have been some epic social media fails by corporations. American Apparel posted an image to celebrate the 4th of July on its Tumblr stream with “#smoke” and “#clouds.” Unfortunately, their young employee used an image of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, thinking it was fireworks. A Chrysler social media contractor tweeted an offensive and profane message about Detroit drivers on the company page instead of his personal page. It was retweeted by thousands before it could be removed.

All companies can learn from these high profile errors when it comes to strategy for their social accounts. Best practices start with a clear governance policy and procedure ensuring all of the proper pieces are in place. A strong governance policy must establish a hierarchy within the team and ensure that incoming and outgoing topics are reviewed and escalated through content criteria. Planned messaging must be reviewed to flow with trending stories. Finally, lead decision makers must commit to being available to determine a response to negative items quickly.

Celtic creates social content for the TreeHouse Foods brand Lofthouse Cookies, providing information about new cookie varieties, nut-free choices and celebration ideas. We also monitor visitor comments and customer service requests, escalating responses for any pertinent or timely issues.

Here are three governance ideas:

  1. Don’t rely on a single individual to be responsible for content: make it a team effort with increasing levels of responsibility.
  2. Be creative without being offensive: consider your audience, wording and any cultural ramifications. Turn gaffes into opportunities to emphasize how on top of social media your company really is.
  3. Streamline access to customer service, legal and compliance resources so you can act quickly and appropriately.

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