3 Ways To Protect Your Brand From a Social Media Mayday

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US Airways reminded everyone Monday that humans make mistakes.

But not everyone represents a major brand and shares a mistake that large on social media. Errors as grandiose as US Airways’ end up in headlines around the country. It’s more than embarrassing – it can affect the airline’s bottom line. The brand is now forever linked to an infamous x-rated tweet.

But, despite the graphic nature of the photo, what’s even more embarrassing is that a major brand was so careless. Social media professionals, in both large and small brands, need to proceed with caution now more than ever. Here are three ways to make protect your brand from a PR nosedive.

1.) Hire Professionals. Gone are the days of relying on interns to manage your social media accounts. We don’t yet know who posted the US Airways tweet, or why, but this serves as a good reminder that leaving your brand’s reputation in the hands of an intern or untrained individual is dangerous. It’s like playing Russian roulette. Why risk it?  It’s essential to hand over your account to people who understand brand management and customer service protocols. So much of Twitter’s effectiveness for brands is its customer service side. Responding to complaints in today’s digital world requires wit and immediacy, but the priority should always be correct content over speed. A seasoned professional will handle multitasking better and lead to rational messaging, a security blanket for today’s fast-paced industry.

2.) Have a Process for Content Posting. Mistakes happen when you fail to properly lay out your plan of attack or rush through the execution because you’ve procrastinated. Posting content on the fly exposes your account to mistakes, results in forced-sounding or incomplete content and other unintended consequences.  Avoid this through strategic planning prior to execution.

The process requires follow-through, too. Check on the message to make sure it’s what you intended. This can open your eyes to something as minuscule as missing punctuation or something as serious as, well, a nude photo attached to the response.

3.) Create a Crisis Management Plan. If your brand does make a mistake, have an established set of steps to squelch it as swiftly as possible. Part of US Air’s blunder was leaving the tweet exposed for an hour or two before becoming aware of the issue. It failed to monitor instantaneous feedback. Had the tweet been deleted immediately, the news may not have gone as viral.

As early as 2011,  brand crises’ were on the rise. Crisis management plans increases are inevitable with the amount of brands on social media today. It’s insurance in the event of an issue. It’s also a deterrent for mistakes. Your marketing staff and individuals handling the social profiles never want to have to implement the plan, but knowing it exists makes everyone aware of how serious social media is to your brand’s online reputation.

As you use social media, keep in mind it’s imperative double- and triple-check your brand’s messages. Mistakes are inevitable, but limit your chances of a PR nightmare by implementing common-sense approaches to strategy and staff procedures.

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