Social Media lessons from United Airlines and Pepsi for SMBs

Social Media lessons from United Airlines and Pepsi for SMBs

social media is a great tool for marketing your products and services. But the last two weeks showed again that business owners must take the time to learn social media lessons from others.

There are many warnings about personal posts on social media. Often they include views that include politics, religion or images from a crazy night out on the town.

Almost everyone has suffered social media post regret.

Most personal posts are only seen by friends and family. Usually, nothing more happens beyond a little disappointment or embarrassment.

But in business, the wrong message on social media is damaging to sales and brand equity.

You may think this only impacts big corporations as they are more suspect to a consumer backlash or trending hashtags. They may find themselves exposed from people with a smartphone recording an embarrassing event or some form of hashtag-driven boycott campaign.

The advantage large companies have is they use PR firms and social media strategists that allow them to react to negative press.

Real social media savvy companies even have departments that track social media in real time 24/7.

As we found out this week with United Airlines, they may still make mistakes managing it. But quickly handling embarrassing situations will make them disappear from the news cycle.

Every time these problems occur, large corporations take social media lessons. They put in place more safeguards and processes to avoid them.

Some companies may entice employees to watch social media outside work hours. Or they may add large monitors of social media streams in corporate offices.

In contrast, the potential danger SMBs face with social media may be from within. And often go unnoticed by business owners.


You may have seen email footers with a pro-environment message of “Think Before You Print”. You should use a similar slogan for social media posts “Think Before You Post”.

Often business owners do not correlate a drop in sales with a post or string of posts. They look at other factors first, especially if they wrote the post themselves.

Regardless if you write your own social media or if you have a member of staff doing it. Let’s look at a few social media lessons learned from other failures:

  • Write your social media posts only when you have a clear head. No distractions!
  • Avoid writing social media posts when you are angry or in a rush.
  • Have someone else read your social media posts before you post. They may see a problem you didn’t think about.
  • For product-related social media posts, use approved and vetted templates.
  • Jokes are often poison for businesses. Not everyone gets them or they misinterpret the joke.
  • Do not use social media manager software to manage your personal and business feeds. This avoids a personal message or opinion to accidentally post on your business accounts.
  • Stay away from current events in your posts. There are exceptions, but you should take the time and ask as many people as possible to read the post before it goes live.

Many people don’t seem to put the same effort into the quality of social media posts as they do with other marketing. Yet, social media is more immediate and often more powerful than other marketing campaigns.


When a social media blunder occurs with a large corporation, it is a good time to review with your staff social media etiquette. If you are a microbusiness, get friends and family to help you look at your social media process and posts.

You do not have to react to every social media gaffe by others. But take the time to do this review at least 2 to 3 times per year.

If you have an unusual sales drop, go back 4 weeks in social media posts. Review them with others in your company or friends and family.

Also search social media for mentions of your social media handles. Could a disgruntled customer with lots of followers tanked your sales?

This could be a social media lesson for your customer service staff. They may not realize how a decision on their end cost the company sales.

Or you may find that a product you are selling is not liked by customers. Another social media lesson for product development staff!

As we already mentioned, you may be the only staff and you wear all these hats. In that case, you should ask for help from friends and family.

Someone from the outside your company may point to problems you didn’t realize.

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