We’ve already written an article on How NOT to Fail at Social Media Campaigns, but recent social media news have inspired an article on what to do if you do happen to fail. As with everything in life, there are situations in which no matter what amount of planning goes into something, things still go awry.
You may or may not have heard about the Sleepy Hollow marketing blunder with their “Happy Headless Day” campaign. To welcome the new season of the FOX network show, Sleepy Hollow , based on the stories of the Headless Horseman from European folklore, FOX launched a “Happy Headless Day” campaign with witty puns from the show about the headless character. Unfortunately, this campaign launched the same day as the devastating news came out about Steven Sotloff’s death. Needless to say, the media took this campaign and ran with it warping the intentions of the “Happy Headless Day” campaign and putting Sleepy Hollow in a bad position.
The way FOX network handled the situation was perfect. This is their statement: “We apologize for the unfortunate timing of our Sleepy Hollow Headless Day announcement…The tragic news of Steven Sotloff’s death hit the web as the email was being sent. Our deepest sympathies are with him and his family, and we don’t take the news lightly. Had we have known this information prior, we would have never released the alert and realize it’s in poor taste.”
This is a perfect example of how a well-intended campaign can go awry purely due to unforeseen events. Had this campaign been launched 6 months prior, no one would have looked twice at it. However, due to the timing and the hungry media looking for a scandal, FOX network was put in a bad position.
So now, the question is this: What do you do if something like this happens to you? You’ve read our article on How NOT to Fail at Social Media Campaigns, did your research and are confident that your new campaign will be a success. Out of nowhere at the very last minute, something happens that sets your plans off track and puts your brand in a bad light.
Immediate damage control. First things first, you have to immediately initiate damage control. This is one of the main reasons why you have to be ever-present in your social media accounts. If you or someone you delegate is there to catch an issue as soon as it occurs, you have a better chance of minimizing the amount of damage to your brand. If you set a campaign up and forget it, you’re bound to miss any feedback or backlash from your campaign. This will only cause negativity to fester and spread across your entire brand.
Sincere apology. Emphasis on the word “sincere.” Whether or not you think you did something wrong, you need to understand this: once you publish something, it no longer belongs to you. If your public portrays something as offensive or insensitive, it is your job to understand their point of view and empathize with them. Try to understand why your campaign would make them upset, apologize and mean it, and if necessary, retract your campaign. This doesn’t mean that you need to take down your campaign every time you upset one person, but use your discretion. If the campaign makes a turn for the worst, you have to take it down.
Plan for future action. If the reason for the blunder was an oversight, it may be necessary to add an additional step in your ad campaign clearance. For example, FOX network may now require someone to check through the news before launching a campaign to ensure that a campaign they are about to launch will not be offensive to anyone. If the reason was out of your control, have a team dedicated to monitoring the campaign from beginning to end prepared to institute any damage control immediately.
Unfortunately, no matter how much researching you do, there could be unforeseen events that throw your campaign off. The media will almost always find a way to warp information to fit their purposes, and trolls will do their best to make you look bad. There is hope, however, in your recovery. The worst thing you could do is ignore the problem and hope it goes away; that will only fuel the fire and allow people who are already mad at you to get even more upset and talk amongst themselves. Your presence is 100% necessary to help mediate the issue and smooth everything over the best you can. The problem will most likely not go away on its own in most cases. So, engage and speak up!
Don’t forget to come talk to us, too! We’re ever-present on Twitter and you can reach us in the comments below, as well. Also, we just launched our new site: http://purelysocialmedia.com, so check it out and let us know what you think. If you need any tips or advice on your specific social media situations, feel free to send us and email! We love to chat!