Lessons Learned from Social Media Mistakes



You’ve probably read about social media snafu’s from big brands and said to yourself, “that’s never going to happen to me”. And maybe it won’t. But the reality is that marketers, small business owners and everyone else with a Facebook Page multi-tasks through their busy days and slips here or there. We’re human. It happens.

And it’s not the end of the world when it happens. How you act and what you learn from these social media mistakes is what really matters.

The Michelob Local Lesson

Let’s look at a real-life situation from this weekend. The image above is an untouched screen shot of a sponsored Facebook post from Michelob that I assume showed up in my stream because I live in Portland, Oregon, am a runner and, like many Oregonians, enjoy a good beer.

Unfortunately, Michelob got a few things wrong here (nice effort, just not the best execution). For just a moment, put aside the fact that Oregon is the #2 state for breweries per capita and that Oregonians have a strong love for and loyalty to their local craft beer.



Yes, the same image went to Twitter where the comments weren’t much better.

Let’s just focus on the obvious slip up. Most people know that two states claim their own “Portland” in the country: Oregon and Maine (there might be others, but these are the main two). Many might not realize that there is no coast in Portland, Oregon – it’s about two hours west of our great city. That lighthouse in Michelob’s Facebook post? It’s Portland Headlight in Maine. Where there is a coast.



Local people know their town. Wouldn’t you?



And don’t think that consumers aren’t on to “sponsorships” and the advertising support that goes on around them. They still expect national sponsors to do their local homework.


The Oregonians who took the time to make a comment were eager to let Michelob know that they were way off target with this post. The ad has run for at least three days with out a response from Michelob.

Real connections happen where there is honesty, trust and transparency and there is not much authentic about this post. It positions the brand as an impostor trying to be local when it is clearly not.

Get Local Social Media Right

The good news for you is that it’s pretty easy to avoid these social media mistakes with your own posts – and you don’t need the big brand budgets, staff and resources to do it. Here’s how:

  1. Always do your research. If you’re posting something local, and you’re not truly local to that market, make sure you’re using local language, spelling of local places or names is proofed, images are relevant and that the seasonality is right. The best practice is to have someone in market review your content first.
  2. Be authentic. If you aren’t in the market, admit this and ask for help. This tactic often results in getting the local community to rally in order to help you out.
  3. Develop local advocate relationships. Have a group of local people who are already fans of your brand to help you understand the landscape, the do’s and don’ts and other unspoken customs.

Get Back on Track

What if you get yourself in Michelob’s position and have people calling you out in social media? First, most people only comment because they care which means they could possibly become a fan of your brand someday. When you or your agency are running ads, you need to have notifications turned on to receive comments. You should do this always, but especially with ads promoting your post to a higher number of people.

Once that first comment shows up, immediately acknowledge your mistake. Don’t ignore it, argue the fact, or change the post without owning up to the error first. Then you can either pull it or correct the ad.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Share how you handled it so that we can all learn! Thanks