Social media leaks: How to handle the aftermath

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Social media. A blessing and a curse all within the same breath. You get to target your key demographic with little to no cost, but also run the risk of exposing your brand to damage caused by careless leaking of information. However, with careful management, media leaks need not be a destructive force to your business.

Last week marked the final of The Great British Bake Off and after nine weeks of tears, tantrums, soggy bottoms and thinly veiled innuendos, we couldn’t wait to see who would be crowned the 2017 baking champion. So, when the winner was accidentally tweeted approximately twelve hours before the show time, it caused outrage and uproar amongst Bake Off fans the length and breadth of the country.

Poor Prue Leith became a social pariah within minutes, with memes, angry Facebook posts and Twitter going into meltdown. No doubt there were emergency meetings in her PR Team to try to counteract the monumental damage that had been done, but as we all know, once something is put out into the Twitter stratosphere, it can be very difficult to recover from it. Whilst the rise of smartphone technology means that social media is available on demand and at our fingertips, it also means that any leaked information is more likely to be seen and shared by a number of people on every social media platform before you are able to retract the post.

 

Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!

So how do you handle a social media gaffe that has leaked information not intended for public consumption? The first thing to remember is, don’t panic. Twitter posts cannot be edited (only deleted) whereas Facebook posts can be. However, as soon as you are aware of the error, take down the offending item and assess the damage. How many times has the post been shared, retweeted or liked? This gives you an indication of the scale of your audience and how to handle your recovery.

 Take the blinkers off

Don’t ignore the situation; it will only make it worse. A follow up statement may be required to counteract any damage caused and remember to be open and factual. The public don’t like to feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes, honesty in this case is always the best policy.

 Learn from your mistakes

If the leak has come from within your business, then it may be worth revisiting your social media guidelines at this stage with the view to preventing any future issues. As part of this, monitor social media sites closely and if you feel there is the potential of an imminent leak, review your PR to see if you are able to put a positive spin on the situation. This ties in with honesty and gives the public a chance to see that there are no cover-up operations involved.

 Preparation is key

Finally, recognise that media leaks are part and parcel of our lives. Prepare for this scenario in advance by putting together a crisis team to handle any leaks in a constructive and logical fashion. This will minimise the damage to your company’s reputation and integrity and will allow you to control the public perception of your brand in times of need.

It is also worth mentioning that the viewing figures increased by 400,000 for the final episode of Bake Off. Perhaps there is no such thing as bad publicity after all…

 

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