social media how toHas a team member ever posted something inappropriate from your social media account?

Are you ready with a recovery plan?

If someone wreaks havoc on your account, you need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.

In this article you’ll discover how to recover from a bad post to your social media account.

recover from a negative social media update

Discover how to recover from a negative social media update.

Listen to this article:

#1: Determine Whether to Delete the Post

Whenever you discover a questionable post on your social media account, the first step in crisis management is to assess the situation. No matter the extent of your account hack or blunder, you will have to do some damage control. Just remember deleting the post will not make the entire situation go away.

Many tools make it easy for someone to grab a screenshot of your social indiscretion. If you, someone on your team or an agency you’ve hired to run your social media campaigns created the post, deleting it could make you look bad.

Plus, if it comes to light that you tried to sweep a bad situation under the rug, your brand will only look worse. That’s why it’s typically a better idea to let these posts stay, even if you later go on to regret them.

mpatterson22 tweet

Think before you delete. If you post something silly, it’s better to ride it out than to make it look like you’re hiding something.

However, there are some situations that make it permissible, if not mandatory, to delete social media posts.

Lewd or Graphic Posts: It is unfair to subject your followers to images that make them feel uncomfortable, especially if your target audience is primarily composed of a younger demographic. If someone publishes wildly inappropriate (think R-rated and above) text or graphics to your account, delete the posts as quickly as possible.

Obvious Hacks: If it’s clear that your account has been hacked, there’s a higher level of acceptance in deleting the post. In this day and age it’s fair to assume people know that being “hacked” is just another cost associated with conducting business online.

Remember, people won’t always believe that you’ve been hacked. Plus, many social users are quick to call out a brand that they think faked a hack as a publicity stunt.

It’s also important to note that if your Twitter password is “password,” you’re not allowed to delete any hacked posts.

#2: Take Responsibility

When it comes to the apology message, there are typically two people who should send it: the person who made the mistake or someone higher up in the company.

chipotletweets apology tweet

Even if the offending post is due to a hack, apologize to your followers and fans.

While most of the time it sounds better when the person who sent the inappropriate social message takes responsibility, it’s not always an option. If that’s the case, have someone who is higher up in the organization respond.

This way your followers feel like you’re taking the situation seriously and the spokesperson can address how the company plans to ensure nothing similar happens in the future.

The Onion is notorious for their unapologetic brand of humor. However, when backlash over an inappropriate tweet backed them into a corner, they were forced to apologize to their fans.

The incident took place during the 2013 Oscars when they insulted the then 9-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. After a massive social uproar, the CEO stepped up to apologize.

the onion apology facebook post

After massive backlash from an inappropriate tweet, the CEO of The Onion had no choice but to apologize.

Since it’s in our nature to try to avoid fault, this is probably the most difficult part of the process. Even the largest of companies will need to swallow their pride and tell fans they’re sorry.

#3: Track Mentions and Engage

Get ready. Your company’s social messages are about to skyrocket. Granted, this depends on the size of your social media following and the level of offensiveness of the gaffe. Yet even the smallest brands should be prepared.

Stay on top of posts and mentions by using a social media management tool like Topsy. These tools not only make it easy to respond to the influx of comments, tweets and page posts, many will also allow you to run social analytics that assess the damage done to your following.

the onion mentions on topsy

Use a social media management tool to keep track of mentions and repercussions following your social crisis.

When you keep track of mentions, you can respond appropriately and in a timely manner. It could mean the difference between keeping customers and losing their business (and respect) for good.

#4: Develop a Post Approval Process for the Future

Once you’ve gotten a handle on your current predicament, put new processes in place to make sure nothing similar happens in the future (provided, of course, that you don’t get hacked). Even if you haven’t yet faced a social media crisis, take these steps to ensure you never do.

Create a social media editorial calendar. Since most editorial calendars have multiple users, this is a great system to put in place to double-check and approve posts, so nothing obscene or inappropriate makes it through to your social accounts. Also, when you plan far enough in advance, you have time to consider your posts for days, or even weeks, before you submit or schedule them.

editorial calendar example

Create a social media content calendar to plan your activity and prevent inappropriate posts in the future.

If you use a social media agency, schedule time to sit down with them. That way you can spell out exactly what you will and will not allow them to post.


Most companies don’t intend to offend people on social media, but sometimes it just happens. Rogue or disgruntled employees, hackers and trolls all have motives and means to destroy your social presence.

Whether your brand gets hacked or someone on your team makes a poor content choice, it’s important to know how to handle situations that could tarnish your brand’s social reputation. Deal with your social media crisis immediately and tactfully. Plus, have a process in place that will protect your company in the future.

What do you think? Have you had a negative social media update? Have you experienced a social media crisis? How did you handle it? What advice do you have for others? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

how to recover from a negative social media update

Tips for recovering from a negative social media update.

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  • Nice article. I agree with the tips.
    I think this is applicable to many brands out there… both big and small. We all seen some crucial lapses in social media updates and campaigns…
    With regards to a negative post’s impact… To me, it’s always a 50 50 for big and small brands.. if you’re big you can be ruined because you have a much larger audience… but you can also brush it off quickly since you most likely have have a loyal following.. for the small brands, on the other hand, it’s the complete opposite.

  • Steven K. Moeller


    I am the first visitor on your blog , i am so much impressed with your blog. I like this such kind of info .Thanks For This Great Article.Keep it up This Great Site Very nice tip.. thank you

  • I.S.M. Habibullah

    The claims were supported by facts. Clients should be impressed if they see Marketers post articles like these. These are valuable contents.

  • Michael Patterson

    Thank you for saying that!

  • Michael Patterson

    You’re welcome Steven!

  • Michael Patterson

    I agree, but why risk it? I think these larger companies should definitely take a couple additional steps to ensure they don’t drop the ball in the first place.

  • Madness

    I accidentally posted something explicit (cursing) on my work twitter thinking it was mine. Fortunately I recognized the mistake within a few seconds and was able to delete it before any damage was done. Still, a heart pounding experience that I’ve taken even more precautions to not let happen again. It’s not good! Thanks for the article. Really helps me remember to keep things in order!

  • Michael Patterson

    Thank you for sharing! I’m glad that you were able to recover it before anybody caught it. I definitely know the feeling of sending a message that maybe should have waited…

  • I.S.M. Habibullah

    It’s always feels good to appreciate something exquisite. And that was one of them. You are welcome.

  • burkay gokhan

    ahaha 😀 its funny post to read… I have a good word : Nobody can teach you crisis management unlesss you meet with it

  • Soletia Owens

    I agree, these tips you gave are important. Not only for big companies but small companies as well. Putting up negative or offensive content can hurt your business. Love the article!! Good Job!!

  • Michael Patterson

    You’re right, companies of all sizes definitely need to take all of this into account! Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  • I think if you post something that later you decide does not look good its better to delete. If someone else has archived it somehow and publishes it then deal with it. Its okay to say you made a mistake. If I make a mistake in other areas of my work I fix it.. same goes for social.

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  • Another great thing Twitter has now introduced is a ‘Ready To Tweet’ check box, to ensure you’re really sure that you want to send that tweet.

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  • Éva Somogyi

    The posts I do not like anyone to offend. Notifications are wrong, and it is difficult to avoid. I have all I want to do good, to help .Bántani yet so I do not want anybody does not make sense. Just a shame the man if a similar incident occurs.

  • Éva Somogyi

    I like people and I’m happy right where he likes someone.

  • Social Media Weekly Plan is something that made my job much easier. That way I never have to worry about what I should or shouldn’t post since I have enough time to decide in advance.

  • Éva Somogyi

    I like people do not want to offend anyone help or not but hurt no love .Or. There is no point .Only hurt me hurt you, whether old or young.