December 8, 2023

The Art of the Social Media Apology

By: Drew Forrest


Instagram: DrewJF_

Your cursor hovers over the post button. The classic 21st century question arises: to post or not to post? Will it offend people? Will it be funny? Will it just disappear into the internet abyss? You decide to post. You reread the post ten times after it is published and before the responses start flowing in.

Someone retweets with a “haha.” Another person has a neutral response, but then it starts going downhill. All of a sudden the twitter mob starts to build traction. Retweets are flowing in and favorites are piling up. Do you delete? Do you keep it and own it? Do you disclose any background information?

These “delete or not to delete” circumstances are always situational. If you catch the post quick enough do you delete or is the damage already done? I think something to learn from the Red Cross’s mishap is that if you delete a tweet then a creative and proper apology is necessary. Deleting a tweet and acting as if it never happened shows the company believes they have the ability to fool their stakeholders.

Below I have some thoughts on how to conduct a well thought out social media apology:

  1. Fight Fire With Water 

Authors Jay Baer and Amber Naslund who coauthored The Now Revolution recommend to fight “social media fire with social media water.” If you offend a group of people on twitter then make sure you post your apology on twitter. If a department posts something offensive on facebook make sure your apology makes it to the facebook page as well. This will help address the audience that was originally offended.


  1. Admit To It

If you were wrong say you were wrong! There is nothing better then leading in with, “I am sorry. What I posted was uncalled for and I want to apologize for it.” This shows remorse and hopefully that you learned from your mistake.


  1. Respect WOMMA’s Ethics Code: The Honesty ROI

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) has an ethics code named the Honesty ROI that stands for: honesty of relationship, honesty of opinon and honesty of identity. Relationship establishs that you display who you are representing, opinon states you only say what you believe in and honesty of identity states you never lie about who you are. These three core concepts are especially crucial if your stakeholders have lost trust in you as a result of a negative post. Make sure you are honest about who you represent, how you represent them and what you are representing.

3 thoughts on “The Art of the Social Media Apology

  1. I have to say I really love that you included Kanye’s apology to Beck. Someone notorious for saying or posting things that really offend people, and even he knows when and where to make the right apology. I can’t say that I have ever personally dealt with a tweet or Facebook post that has needed deleting, but the steps that you give here are spot on with how I think I would handle a situation like that. It’s incredible how many people really just want to hear companies, or other people own up for their wrong doing and say “I’m sorry.” Too many times you see posts made by businesses and people alike that have been offensive or have created some kind of stir, and instead of apologizing for their actions they just delete it like it never happened. To just post and delete really says something about the character of the person/company.

  2. Responding to your comment it is still shocking to me how hard it is for companies to say “I’m sorry.” I totally agree with your point about this and it is really what a companies stakeholder wants to see. They want to see a company have that “human” factor and admit they did something wrong.

  3. Drew, I really liked reading your post. There is so much that honesty will say about a company, and hiding behind the truth by deleting a tweet is simply giving followers even more to talk about. Not only did the company say something offensive, but now they have tried to claim it never existed even though thousands of followers could have seen, commented, re-tweeted, etc., on the post. I would definitely agree and argue that honesty would and will make for the most successful companies. We all want companies and products to believe in and trust.

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