Four Social Media IT rules to live by

The majority of big companies don't have a social media department or employee designated just to deal with social media. That means the buck stops with you. Here's how to come up with a plan in case of social media disaster.

In January, McDonald's found itself between two patties and, well, a pretty nasty social media hard place. It was because of one hashtag. And IT should and could learn a lot from what happened in that particular social media debacle.

In promoted tweets beginning January 18, McDonalds began including the hashtag #McDStories.

Bad idea.

McDonald's thought people would share heartwarming stories of hot coffee and Happy Meals with the kids, perhaps. But the Twitterverse reacted with boatloads of funny to disgusting remarks -- all hash tagged with #McDStories. This was not looking good.

At most companies IT is still responsible for social media. McDonald's, though, had a social media-focused executive who watched the campaign and reacted quickly.

McDonalds social chief Rick Wion removed the hashtags within two hours. That quick reaction got the +McDStories smart-aleck tweets down to a trickle within some hours, too.

Infographic courtesy: The United States Air Force

The following are four easy rules IT should follow to avoid such social disasters. They're best practice -- and easy to implement.

1. React quickly, as McDonald's did. Make sure you are monitoring all social media outlets - or that you know someone who is.

2. Put a Best Practice Online Social Media Engagement IT Strategy in place.

Take a cue from the U.S. Airforce. Check out their flowchart for online reaction below.

3. Zoetica consultant Kami Huyse suggests that IT install an enterprise-targeted social media management and viewing tool called Knowem. Certainly, that's just one of several excellent reputation management tools out there. Here's a screenshot of the one Huyse recommends.

4. Check out CREWE. This is a loosely knit group of Wikipedia editors who try to help resolve Wikipedia arguments and flames. CREWE, which stands for Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement, maintains an open document on Facebook where people can log their issues.

It provides Wikipedia conflict of interest guidelines, a list of best practices for editors with conflicts of interest, and lists controversial issues you need to be aware of before editing a Wikipedia entry. Help specifically for paid editors: Other CREWE collected resources include:

  1. Request an edit:
  2. Request arbitration:

DISCLOSURE: Journalist Gina Smith and the consultant quoted, Kami Huyse, serve together on a non-profit board intended to help curb hate speech online. That is -- its board is Kami Huyse, Jim Clark, Kami Huyse, Jimmy Wales and Andrea Weckerle.