3 Social Media Lessons from the #myNYPD Fiasco


When the NYPD started the #myNYPD hashtag and tweeted out this simple request:

they didn’t anticipate this kind of response…

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Rather than snapshots of happy, smiling civilians and officers, the Twitter account and #myNYPD hashtag were both inundated with images of police brutality. While the #myNYPD story runs much deeper than a simple social media campaign gone awry, it does offer brands (both controversial and non-controversial) the opportunity to learn a few lessons before making and facing similar mistakes.

Think it through and explore all of your options.

What is your campaign/promotion hoping to achieve? Is there a better way that you can do it? The possibility will always exist for negative, abusive or just spammy comments to find their way in as submissions in a promotion. Having a realistic expectation of what you might see will help you better prepare for it. If one type of promotion seems like it will be more susceptible to unwanted posts, it might require more thought or it might need to be abandoned altogether.

If possible, use a third-party for submission regulation and approval.

If you’re asking fans and followers to submit videos or photos as part of your promotion, use a third party app, like Offerpop, as the submission tool. using a third party app like this will help you sort through and approve appropriate photos and videos, while giving you the ability to ignore the inappropriate ones. Although Facebook has made it easier to bypass apps for promos, many of these third party apps give you the advantage of keeping the submissions private until you approve them. This can help keep unwanted submissions from making the rounds. If you’re hosting a Twitter chat, consider using a monitoring app or a question submission system that will give you a little more control.

Have a damage control system in place.

Social media and Murphy’s law go hand and hand — anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Recent gaffes from U.S. Airways and classic gaffes from the infamous Amy’s Baking Company are perfect examples of this. You can’t always prevent something from going awry, but you can prepare to deal with it in case it does. If a Twitter chat gets out of hand, what systems can you put in place ahead of time that will help get it back on track? If an inappropriate photo gets through in a photo contest, what team can you assemble quickly to smooth over the situation? More importantly, how can you handle the situation gracefully once it’s all over?

Need some inspiration for great community management? Check out American Airways’ speedy response to a teen’s terrorism tweet.