The Importance of Caution and Class in Social Media Management

Like most mistakes, it was honest and innocent. The recent college graduate managing social media of clothing brand American Apparel, by fault of youth and inexperience, posted a stylized photo of clouds and lights to the company’s Tumblr page in honor of Fourth of July festivities.

The problem? The photo was taken of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, an American tragedy that claimed the lives of all seven crew members aboard.



Social media response was swift and relentless, accusing American Apparel of deep insensitivity to the lives lost in the shuttle disaster. Although the company quickly removed the post, the damage to its reputation had been done.

Unfortunately, this is hardly an isolated incident. Many companies in nearly every industry have faced some form of blunder when it comes to social media.

The problem is due in part to the rapid-fire nature of Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels allowing thoughts to be displayed in front of millions of eyes within seconds of typing them out. Cutting out reviews and second opinions on content can result in catastrophic misjudgments of the line between funny and offensive. Add to that the fact that many social media managers are young, often straight out of college, and still developing a mature sense of propriety in the workplace, and you have a perfect storm of impending social media snafus.

Whether you are a seasoned social media professional or just looking to cut your teeth in the field, it is vital to uphold the highest level of class and caution when managing your company’s brand. Some key things to remember are:


  • Research and fact-check everything -- twice. It’s worth the extra few minutes it takes to ensure you’re spelling that word right (or that the picture of fireworks you’re blasting into cyberspace isn’t actually a photo of a tragic event)


  • Treat your personal brand as an extension of your company. If potential customers end up on your personal social media sites, make sure what they’re seeing is appropriate. And if you are looking for a social media job in the entertainment industry, proving you can handle your own social profiles will instill confidence in a potential employer.


  • When in doubt, ask. Younger people are especially susceptible to the fear that asking for help means they aren’t capable of handling it on their own. In reality, your supervisor would much rather you take a few moments to ask for help than accidentally make the entire company a laughingstock because of a poorly planned Tweet or photo.


Ultimately, mistakes happen to everyone -- all you can do is take every precaution to minimize the likelihood of one negatively impacting the company you work for. Sometimes, that means proving to a potential employer that you have what it takes to successfully manage their company’s brand. Find social media jobs, entertainment jobs, journalism jobs and more on



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