Social media marketing is one of the jewels in the crown of modern digital selling. As effective as it usually is, sometimes things go wrong. Here are four ways companies have blundered with marketing campaigns on social platforms along with suggestions for making things right.

Not Understanding Trending Hashtags

When a hashtag begins trending, it is doing so because it connects with a large number of people on a personal level deep enough for them to repeat it. While companies may want to take advantage of trending hashtags to promote products or services, they need to understand what the popular term represents and the idea behind its generation. Otherwise, they may use it inappropriately and offend a large segment of the public. If this happens, companies can publicly apologize and respond individually to comments they receive.

Using Automation Carelessly

While some types of robotic chatting may create efficient responses in certain situations, such as basic customer service inquiries, sometimes automation can lead to large internet problems. For example, companies and organizations have found using chat bots on social media can be dangerous.

If these automated programs are not given stringent filters, unfortunately it is likely some users will send through offensive messages the bots will then spread, in the name of the company or organization. This type of social media marketing mistake is difficult to fix. Primarily, the automation needs to be disengaged and offensive material removed.

Failing to Research

Many companies look for dramatic images to post on social media. This is especially true for firms gearing their content toward millennials. However, images should be thorough researched before they are published. Otherwise, a company might publish— unknowingly, one hopes—an image of a disaster with a flippant hashtag. Such circumstances would likely offend large groups of the population. Again, there are no easy fixes. Obviously, the image post should be removed as quickly as the mistake is realized.

Failing to Separate Accounts

In many firms, those tasked with posting on social media sites are themselves fans of social platforms. Some companies have faced big problems when offensive private posts found their way into the company’s official accounts and were published on public media in the company’s name. This is a nightmarish situation for businesses, and damage control must begin immediately. High-ranking officers should get involved, up to and including the CEO, to offset the negativity suddenly linked to the company’s public image. Companies can avoid this by issuing devices to be used only for business accounts.

A few precautions can prevent major problems for companies on social media. The old adage is indeed true in that prevention is much better than repairing damage afterward.