How to recover from a social media mistake

Mistakes happen to all of us. Sometimes they are inconsequential. Other times, a major disaster. They happen at work, in our personal lives, and on social media.

So, when you inadvertently misspell “magic” or accidentally post the wrong date or time on Facebook, how do you fix it? Sometimes it’s as easy as editing a post or uploading a new photo. But what do you do when you can’t fix it or when it’s a big one?

During our arctic blast in Texas last week, a neighboring district made a mistake. They tweeted that school was closed the following day. Then, a few minutes later, they tweeted that the initial tweet was a mistake – the decision had not been made yet. Oops.

Students fumed and raged. They creatively told the district what they thought about the mistake – in nice and not-so-nice ways. While this could have been a huge black eye for this district, they recovered from it nicely. It helped that they actually did cancel school about 30 minutes later, but a quick apology and continued ownership of the mistake made all the difference.

So how can you fix a boo-boo on social media? Here are some tips:

  1. Own your mistake. They happen: small ones like spelling errors or omitting a name and big ones like accidentally canceling school via Twitter. Just ‘fess up and take ownership. Apologize, correct the information and move on.
  2. Laugh about it (when appropriate). Humor can work in your favor in when a mistake happens. Recently, I responded to a student on Twitter and I spelled “magic” wrong. Oh, did our students have a heyday with me. A quick-witted response and correction gave them a good laugh. A few minutes later, when a student spelled his own tweet wrong, I ribbed him a little and gained some leniency with my own grammar faux pas.
  3. Give a little to those affected. Did your mistake directly impact someone? Maybe you posted the wrong time for an event or left a student off a list of winners. Give the event or the student a few minutes in the spotlight with their own post. Quickly explain (if you have space), and then put the spotlight on anyone or anything that might have been affected by the blunder.
  4. Go easy on yourself. Remember, mistakes happen to the best of us. None of us are immune, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Smile, laugh and move on – but take care to not repeat the same mistake again!

Snow Go or No Go?

Snow

It seems likely that most NSPRA members have experienced some sort of weather-related closings during this wacky winter. For some, record-setting snowfalls have made it perfectly obvious that schools will be closed. For others, iffy forecasts make the decision to close school a crystal-ball exercise, often rewarded by criticism and complaints.

Thankfully, once a decision is made, using social media to announce closings gives us more flexibility and efficiency in communicating the news. To make the best use of these tools and ensure clearer communication, here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Date-stamp and time-stamp your messages – Beginning a message with “EFFECTIVE March 5 at 1:30 PM” makes it very clear which message is the latest and currently significant.
  • Use very clear language (to the point of being redundant) – Don’t leave anything to interpretation. A message that states “Classes for Thursday, March 5, have been canceled” gives two points of reference.
  • Make sure your day and date are in sync with each other – There’s nothing more frustrating than sending a message to thousands of viewers only to have to send a revision 30 seconds later.
  • Use all the channels you have at your disposal – Go ahead and post on each platform you regularly use, but be sure to have a consistent message.
  • Share the chore – While you may restrict who can alter your website (which might also take more tech skills to change), pull together a team that can divide and conquer the work needed to update all the other channels you use. Just make sure all the team members have the needed access rights and the same message to deliver.
  • Don’t forget Plan B – Have a backup person at-the-ready in case you lose your power or technology.
  • Finally, when the storm has passed, be sure to take your website and voicemail auto-attendant messages back to normal.