12 Most Non-Egotistical Ways to Avoid Social Media Blunders

12 Most Non-Egotistical Ways to Avoid Social Media Blunders

Recently a client asked me: “Can you ensure me that we’ll not be the next great social media PR disaster on the evening news?” It’s a question I hear often.

More and more executives are making the leap with their businesses into the social-sphere but many are replacing their hopes of viral word-of-mouth with a fear of social missteps and viral PR disasters. The reality is that there are no guarantees; however, each executive can take steps to avoid them. It starts with checking your ego.

So in response to their questions, here are my 12 Most Non-Egotistical Ways to Avoid Social Media Blunders.

1. Educate your employees

You ask for media training — even though you only speak to the press sporadically. Why not do the same for your brand ambassadors: the employees who engage your audience (knowingly or not) via social media every day?

2. Clean your ears

Before you engage the public online, learn to listen better. Yes you’re the next visionary CEO but without a customer willing to follow your business it’s nothing but ego. Hear what your customers want and what they hope for. Know the trend currents before you speak.

3. Take if offline

You must quickly and publicly acknowledge customer complaints but never hash it out with them online, this not your forum to orate. Provide multiple options for them to reach you in person or by telephone where you can discuss their concerns.

4. Follow up

When customers don’t respond to your olive branch immediately, follow up socially. Post additional options for a connection. Let them — and the world — know your interest was not simply a platitude.

5. Don’t overproduce

Video messaging, blog posts and other forms of social media engagement are often overproduced, which screams “marketing speak” to an increasingly media-savvy public. They have grown to expect more “humanness” in your approach to them, warts and all.

6. Think first

No amount of honesty, transparency or other social media buzz word will help you if don’t first have a well-researched strategy for engaging your audience. Spontaneity and a quick response is desirable but without some form of roadmap, it will quickly take you down the wrong path.

7. Lean on me

Your loyal customers are willing to step up and help you. Acknowledge them and give them the opportunity to do so. You’re an executive but it’s their loyalty that keeps you where you are. Create customer advisory groups and open up your customer channels to advocates to speak on your behalf. That trust will be rewarded.

8. Think of your mother

A good rule of thumb when communicating socially on behalf of your brand is: pretend your mother is listening. Respect your customers and be respectful of their thoughts, opinions and feelings — even if you disagree with them.

9. Kill the office hours

Office hours have gone the way of the dinosaur. If your customers can engage with your product or service 24/7, your social office hours should also be 24/7. Responsiveness is no longer adequate. You must also be quick.

10. Be empathetic

Demonstrating empathy is a new skill required by every business, executive and employee. Public communications are better served boasting customer success vs. business success. Placing the customer’s need first in all forms of engagement is more critical than ever.

11. Context

Many have said: “Content is King” when discussing social media strategy. Well, if that’s true, Context is its Mistress. Consider the intent behind what others post over your interpretation of the text. Similarly, consider how others may interpret your chosen words.

12. Be there

Never hide; for any reason. It’s better to stutter and stammer in your pajamas and “be there when the feces hits the wind machine” than appear weeks later in designer suit with a PR-spun press release.

What this all comes down to is: check your ego, trust your audience and be open and responsive to their needs and comments. Social media has created an environment where business-to-customer communications is now more like person-to-person dialogue. Shifting your engagement tactics to accommodate social media does not require a rocket scientist (or social media guru). It simply requires an egoless approach to public conversations.

Sam Fiorella


Sam Fiorella is a globetrotting interactive marketing strategist who has earned his stripes over the past 20 years in senior management roles with corporate sales &marketing teams as well as consulting for more than 30 marketing agencies. Sam’s experience with over 1600 Interactive projects during the past 15 years spans the government, finance & insurance, manufacturing, national retail and travel/tourism sectors. Currently, Sam is the Chief Strategy Sensei at Sensei Marketing, where he is charged with strategic campaign guidance and marketing technology development that power the Sensei Customer Lifecycle Methodology. Sam is a respected blogger and popular keynote speaker on marketing, branding and social media communications having presented at more than 200 conferences in the past 2 years. Follow Sam on Twitter or Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Keep it about the customer, not the biz yes. Context, yes and big WORD on #5 not overproducing; you're supposed to be engaging, communicating -- not just broadcasting.


You have to think how that tweet or update will be read by others, more than your mother (#8);others who may not have been following along with the discussion will read things too. "Run and hide" (#12) is a total no-no. That said, it is always still better to wait -- even a little while -- to make sure ducks are aligned with the stars, the plan is planning its plan, to THINK first (#6) rather than jumping in unprepared.


I'll ad another ego check: one size won't fit all. Person-to-person means there will be a lot of different styles, different approaches to social, to customer service - 'your' way won't be the only 'right' way. FWIW.


RT @Milaspage 12 Most Non-Egotistical Ways to Avoid #SocialMedia Blunders http://t.co/5dcrutiZ via @12most by @samfiorella #peopleskills


This is great advice, expecially #8!  Love it!  :)


Enjoyed the list, Sam - and I'll definitely be Stumbling it. I loved #2, and I'll add something to #3 - Take it Offline. I had to learn early that I am wickedly good with words ;)! If we got to the point where emails were flying back and forth, I could be unerringly accurate in pointing out the flaws in another person's views/conclusions/records/etc. So what if it was the client, it's the principle that counts, right?


Wrong! Get off that email thread and pick up the phone or meet in person. Be there, be empathetic, and get away from the "gotta win this argument" mentality. Check that ego and work for common solutions with a focus on keeping respect and relationship intact!


Great post, literally! It dishes out the challenges as well as the cure (and the cure is part of the challenge). Nine out of ten social media disasters I see could have been averted if even half of these steps had been followed.


Great post like always Sam. But I personally think #9 (24/7) is very over rated in this industry. As a business IRL you are not expected to have people in the store every moment of the day. What needs to be done and is a expectation is a clear set of notifications to the customer that this is when we are here, and this is when you should expect a response. If that is done, clients respect it.


When this goes wrong is if I engage with a brand today and they respond at 9pm on a Friday, but when I need help again and they don't respond due to a different CSR not having the same ethos that is when things fail.






"check your ego, trust your audience and be open and responsive to their needs and comments." BOOM!  Enjoyed the entire read, but that quote brought it home for me.