Sometimes even the “big boys” get social media posts wrong. A Target employee posted private response as a public post and the reactions were expected – but look at how Target handled their accident, and see what you can learn if you make a social media blunder (it happens to everyone!).
After ten minutes or so, this mistake post had 700+ likes, 19 shares and 200+ comments. The comments ranged from “lol” and “oops” to “post fail” and “Kyle [the employee responsible for the post] is getting fired.” I have no idea about how many people took a screenshot besides me, but probably a lot. Needless to say, the post was deleted after 12 or so minutes leaving fans questioning Target’s actions. Social media savvy people argued with regular onlookers who didn’t see any harm in making a mistake or erasing the evidence.
Social Media Blunders: Who’s to Blame?
To determine who’s right and who’s wrong, let’s first figure out what exactly Kyle did by accidentally responding to a private post or a message in the form of a timeline post:
- He told 15 million of Target’s fans (or at least whose were online at the moment) that someone had an unpleasant experience at a Target store.
- He made it clear that peopel do complain to Target and Facebook is one of the ways to do it.
- He showed that Target addresses customer complaints and attempts to resolve their issues.
- He made the company’s social media department look unprofessional
Nothing terrible happened; it could have been way worse! Most of Target’s fans were understanding and forgiving with only a few jokingly pointing out the unprofessionalism. However, Target made a second mistake by deleting the post.
Why you should NOT delete company posts
- The damage is done. If you caught the mistake or typo in the first few seconds after posting, or if you posted something absolutely offensive and embarrassing – go ahead, delete it. However, if the post has been out there for 10+ minutes, forget about it – the damage is already done. Fans noticed, liked, commented, shared, and most likely took screenshots. And the more fans you have, the faster it spreads.
- You are offending your fans. People took time to leave comments and engage in a discussion. By deleting it, you are showing disrespect to your online community implying that what everyone said didn’t matter.
- Mistakes happen. It is often expected of big brands to try and hide the evidence of their mishaps. Remove the corporate veil from your company and show that there are real people behind that logo, and no one is safe from making mistakes.
- Missed opportunity. Most of the time, you can turn your mistake into a joke or something positive. For example, Target could have commented or created a separate post saying how they just made their employee famous or that this is the future of customer service.
Anyway, Target deleted the post and claimed it was caused by a technical glitch. It’s possible, because the post was published via a third-party app called Sprinklr. No matter what was the reason, here are the key takeaways from this story:
- Watch what and where you post
- Be careful experimenting with third-party apps
- Proofread and then proofread again
- Don’t delete your posts when it’s obviously too late to do it unnoticed
- if possible, spin your mishap into something positive or laugh about it with everyone else
- Use your personal judgement: If you think the post is incriminating, can be used against the company, or is highly damaging to the company’s public image, you may delete it to prevent even more people from taking screenshots and sharing. If your mistake doesn’t reach the industry influencers, you have a chance to get away with it.