Oops, I Did It Again: How to Respond to Mistakes

Have you ever made a mistake in your communications efforts? Maybe you accidentally hit "reply all" or posted a tweet to your organization's page instead of your personal one. 

Mistakes happen. It's how you respond to them that matters. Authenticity is key.

A year ago, DoSomething.org (an organization focused on social change campaigns for young people) sent a text message to their entire list of 2.1 million members instead of the 4,000 Jewish teens it was meant for. Oops!

But they handled this mistake brilliantly. DoSomething used humor to acknowledge the gaffe and gave their members a little entertainment (a Spotify playlist):

Alysha here. Proof I’m human: I messed up & sent u a text about being Jewish. To say sorry, I made you an “I F’d Up” playlist. Listen here:http://doso.me/2p 

Ha! I wouldn't mind getting a text mistake and apology like that. It's a good reminder that there are real people sending out organizations' texts and social media updates. It also resulted in more click-throughs than any other text from DoSomething. You can read more about this episode on the Chronicle of Philanthropy and DoSomething's blog.

This reminds me of my favorite social media gaffe from a while back: a Red Cross social media specialist sent a tweet about Dogfish Head beer and "#gettngslizzerd" from the official Red Cross Twitter account instead of her own personal account. With good humor, Red Cross's social media director acknowledged the mistake:

The results were overwhelmingly positive. #gettngslizzerd was trending on Twitter, Dogfish Head encouraged their fans to donate to the Red Cross, and donors posted that they'd given money or blood. The original faux pas led to a fantastic marketing opportunity. 

Have you or your staff made a mistake like this? If not, it's a good idea to think ahead and make a plan for how to respond to different scenarios so that you too can turn a potential PR nightmare into a chance to build a stronger online community.