This is what happens when your integrated marketing program really isn't one. In my last post, I discussed the importance of branding, and the essence of that branding has to carry over to everything else you do in your marketing efforts.
When I was first training Indian teams on effective social media campaigns focused on Americans, they had the mistaken impression that swearing was necessary in all posts (probably my fault - I am typically the only American they know personally and I swear like a trucker). When you are spreading the "voice" of your brand across all sorts of media, everyone developing that media needs to match that voice consistently, otherwise subliminal feelings of mistrust start to develop in the receiver.
For example, when most Americans buy their new Dell laptop and try to figure out how to configure their Wi-Fi connection, they call tech support. With all the pressure to buy American these days in the States, reaching a call center in Mumbai, with people speaking a distinctly different English, will immediately put most Americans in a bad mood, affecting their impression with the brand.
Another example would be putting your twitter feed into the hands of an intern, who uses it for her personal tweets at the same time. No one wants to know what she had for lunch or about that hunky new guy she saw at Barrista's yesterday and how much she hopes he'll call. If I'm following your tweets, I won't mind hearing about the hunky new guy working in tech support (with a pic, please!) IF the brand has that "voice". If you're a law firm, that would still not be appropriate.
But brands have personalities, just like people, and bringing that personality across everything (including your 404 page) can significantly increase engagement. Facebook pages, Linkedin groups can be places to crowdsource ideas, test marketing promotions, get feedback on your products. Engage, engage, engage, people. Ask lots of open-ended questions (ones that can't be answered yes or no), like, "How would you deal with (insert situation of frustration here that could possibly be associate with your product)?" Use polls as well, like "Would you rather get a 10% off coupon on your next beverage, or a free beverage after you purchase 10?" Making your fans feel included, part of your brand will go far. Expand on this by building promotions that refer friends or make them ask to vote on your fan's contribution on your page. An example of this is to make a contest for a new tagline or product name and having people vote for the best. Have badges for frequent contributor stories. Have people vote for best story of the year - depending on the brand, it could be the craziest thing that ever happened to you while drinking that tasty beverage, or voting on the weirdest story they've read in your newspaper.
Now, for those companies that are much more formal (see: law firms), your "voice" will of course be different, more formal, announcing court wins and new clients, but you can also offer free legal advice (with your disclaimer), post profiles of your newest staff members and their practice groups, etc.
THE KICKER - WHY PEOPLE FAIL
For the staffer, it may have been a drunken late night tweet they thought was going to their personal account. A quick apology, maybe retraining or re-assignment for the bad tweeter, and you're good to go. Most bad social media encounters are quickly forgotten (well, except for some very memorable exceptions) as you continue forward. Even a little bad press can get you visitors to your web site, where they may still be converted to customers. As long as you continue to speak in your authentic voice, make a sincere apology, and engage with the people who are upset, you'll win more than you'll lose.
It's these challenges in life that make it fun to get up in the morning. 360 marketing really is da bomb. :- )