If you’re a Walking Dead fan like me and access Facebook regularly, you may have seen a post on the Walking Dead’s Facebook page show up in your feed with a major spoiler, possibly before the 11/30/14 show even aired in your time zone. Generally, the social media team for TWD have been great at posting teasers without spoiling episodes for those who haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately, they jumped the gun with a spoiler post and got to deal with the backlash from angry fans.
I hadn’t seen the episode yet (still haven’t, actually) and I know I was disappointed, but other fans lashed out calling for the person who posted the spoiler to be fired. Posts like this can also cause fans to un-like pages or hide posts to prevent future spoilers, decreasing the page’s fan base. Many posted that the episode had not yet aired in their time zone and was “ruined” by this lapse of judgment or that they unfollowed the page.
Others argued with each other that fans should “know better” than to go on social media before watching the show and that they should know there are going to be spoilers. Unfortunately for many, the spoiler appeared before the episode had aired in most of the world, so even if they had just jumped on Facebook to post “So excited to see what happens in the mid-season finale of the Walking Dead!” there would have been a good chance they would accidentally stumble upon the spoiler post.
Additionally, because of the backlash of so many fans commenting on the post, it increased the engagement rating on the post, thus increasing its reach to a larger audience through Facebook’s algorithm that spreads the post to more viewers because it appears to be of major interest.
As of this posting less than 48 hours later, the spoiler post had 8,474 shares, 403,253 likes and thousands of comments. A new generation of Walking Dead spoiler memes was born and battles over when people should be on Facebook or not were exploding.
While the TWD social media team couldn’t take back the post (although there are rumors the spoiler was quickly removed then re-posted), they acknowledged the backlash immediately and within 24 hours had posted an apology to fans. As of this posting, the apology had more than 281,000 likes, so it seems fans can be forgiving and looking at the AMC and TWD memes in the comments, many decided to just have a sense of humor over the accidental spoiler.
Or did they?
This #RIPSpoiler example is an excellent lesson in bouncing back from a social media slip-up. The social media team quickly responded to thousands of upset fans with a sincere apology and almost poke fun at themselves with the #RIPSpoiler hashtag. Additionally, they welcome fans to continue commenting, encouraging more feedback. The way they handled it, it’s hard to stay upset with the team; they just came out, admitted they had inadvertently made a mistake, no harm was intended and that they would be sure to prevent future spoilers like this to occur in the future.
- Be very cautious about posting potential spoilers on your page. This can apply to businesses as well. For example, many radio stations will post about TV shows or sporting events and could fall into a similar situation, although on a much smaller scale. But it’s best to always try to keep your fans happy as a general rule of thumb.
- If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and let your audience know what you will do to fix it. This goes beyond just social media posts, but can be applied to reviews as well. If a customer comments that your company did something unfavorable, acknowledge their comment, clarify the situation politely without pointing blame, and let all those who see it know what you will do in the future to prevent it from happening again. Here’s a great post of how to respond to reviews that goes into much more detail.
- Engage with your fans. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with thousands of upset fans, but if you do, let them know they are being heard and that you value their feedback, negative or positive. Ignoring them or focusing only on the positive will only make things worse.