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How to Admit Mistakes to Members of Your Online Community

At times, you or someone involved with your brand makes a public mistake. Not every mistake needs to be outed to the online community, but every now and then, an apology or explanation is needed.

Say what you have to say, answer questions, and move on. Don’t put it off and don’t minimize the issue.

Take the following steps to address the situation and move on.

  1. Check with your brand before you say anything.

    You’re going to have to check with your brand before making public statements that admit to mistakes. The company may want to check with its legal department to make sure that your mistake — and the subsequent admission of it — aren’t lawsuit-worthy.

    The company may even want to approve the wording of the public disclosure. In this case, you won’t be speaking in your own voice or using your own words, which can lead to an awkward situation, but it may be absolutely necessary.

  2. Own up to your mistake.

  3. Don’t make excuses.

  4. Make apologies as necessary.

  5. Move on.

    Dwelling on things only prolongs the agony.

Even if you don’t need permission and don’t have to go through the legal department to admit a mistake, as the voice of the community, you’re still the person to whom people will come to with both anger and good wishes. You may be worried about how making a public disclosure or responding to negativity will make you look to your community and the public.

Know that these things always blow over, usually in a matter of days. Brands that are transparent are more easily forgiven than brands that sweep things under the rug. Also, your community will appreciate your honesty.

A little humor goes a long way. Don’t make a mockery of the situation, but don’t take yourself too seriously all the time.

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