Dealing With Your Mistakes

Cooking Fish in FoilHow people remember you is not by your mistakes, but how you respond to them.

Last Friday one of our clients, Cap’n Ron from Maine Ocean Adventures, stopped by our offices to drop off a huge catch of fish as a gift to the flyte crew.

(You can see a small sampling of the finished product to the right.)

The fish were not in thanks for a job well done.

In fact, we made an error while launching his site that actually hurt his visibility. Once we realized what had happened we fixed the problem. Once fixed, we gave him additional marketing help, wrote some blog posts for him and employed some white-hat ninja tricks to boost his visibility, all free of charge.

When Cap’n Ron dropped by he told me that service companies need to stand behind their work, and he felt that Cybele and Joan had really gone above and beyond in fixing the problem.

That reminded me of a study I read about years ago.

Customers of 5 star hotels were surveyed. Ones who had an enjoyable, problem-free stay gave the hotels good marks.

However, customers who had encountered problems that the hotel then fixed gave the hotels even higher marks!

In short, the perfect hotel stays were viewed less favorably than the problematic ones!

Crazy, right?

I guess, deep down, we realize that we’re all fallible. It’s not that we expect perfection, rather we expect that when people make mistakes, that they’ll take ownership of them.

This came into the spotlight after the tragic shootings during a midnight showing of Batman in Aurora, Colorado.

Not surprisingly, “#Aurora” was a trending topic on Twitter that day. That means that it was one of the most used phrases on the popular social media site, as people shared the news and send their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

It’s long been a strategy for brands to “hijack” trending topics to increase their own visibility. This is what happened when Celeb Boutique tweeted out the following:

Celeb Boutique on Twitter

Needless to say, people were horrified and disgusted by the tweet, and thousands of people responded with their own negative comments attacking Celeb Boutique.

If Celeb Boutique is to be believed, the problem arose because they outsourced their Twitter activity overseas where the Aurora tragedy was either not as big news as it was in the US, or perhaps “Aurora” wasn’t the phrase people were using to identify the shooting.

In either case, the damage was done.

Why did the popular fashion blog outsource their social media overseas? Why didn’t the hired social media agency look to see why Aurora was trending?

After the backlash, Celeb Boutique posted a series of tweets apologizing and explaining the situation.

Celeb Boutique Apology

After a weekend of silence the tweets resumed, refocused on selling products.

As someone who’s made his fair share of social media faux pas, I can appreciate that this might have been an honest–if insanely inappropriate–mistake. While this is a doozy, I’m sure there are hundreds or even thousands of social media types who are secretly thinking, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Ashton Kutcher, Kenneth Cole and Chrysler have all suffered by making similar mistakes.

The question is, what should Celeb Boutique do now? A four-tweet apology is not enough.

Perhaps making a donation to the families and loved ones of the victims would be a start. Or, after things calm down, starting a scholarship in honor of those who were killed by this madman.

And certainly by reviewing how they engage their audience with social media, and whether “hijacking” trending topics is really the best way to build a following.

It’s important to keep in mind that we’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

It’s also important to remember that when we make mistakes, we need to own them.

Rich Brooks

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