3 tips for recovering from a social media typo

The author committed a small gaffe on social media that came back to haunt her. You can (and should) learn from her mistakes.

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 discussing (from a PR perspective) how the Vatican had announced the pope was stepping down—and my mistake was caught by a Facebook user.

I deleted the comment entirely within three minutes of the initial posting, which also removed the user’s snarky comment calling out my mistake.

I woke up the next morning filled with shame. The commenter had taken a screen shot of this mishap and posted the image on every other major social media channel—Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn—exposing my mistake and, even worse, my cover-up. I have been typo-free ever since.

Moving forward

We’ve all read stories about major corporations that have pushed the “publish” button and suffered great public scrutiny for a typo, or for a post lacking in good judgment. Luckily, in my personal PR crisis, the following on all these channels was significantly less, and the mistake was simply a matter of a misplaced letter. Regardless, it goes to show that no matter what account—however big or small—social media is live and people are tuned in.

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 a given mistake. 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 three ways to recover from a typo on social media:

1. Own it, quickly. As much as I hated admitting it, the likelihood of that user’s posting my mistake on all the other channels like a wall of shame would have been smaller if I had responded directly, rather than deleting the post. Though 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.

2. Keep it short and keep it sweet. Though 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 that the content I’d 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 led to even more conversation in the public eye. Not a good idea.

3. 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). Although 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; keep your head held high.

Now it’s your turn to share (anonymously or not): Have you made a big “uh-oh” on social media? How did you survive?

Gessenia Votta is an associate account representative at Lois Paul and Partners. (@LPP_PR). She blogs for Beyond The Hype, where this post originally appeared.

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