We’ve always been told to think before we speak. But when it comes to social media, this adage proves even more integral, says Kathy Catoe, MB&A’s favorite social media guru. We think Kathy is the best in the biz. Over the years, she has definitely seen her fair share of social media blunders, and recently, she sat down with us to discuss ways to avoid—and fix—these embarrassing pitfalls.

MB&A: What are some of the biggest blunders you’ve seen in social media in recent years?

KC: Perhaps the biggest social media blunder is when brands don’t have a social media policy intact. Who can post? What can they post? Where can they post? What’s the approval process? These are all issues that need to be addressed up front or you can lose control of your brand, your message and ultimately your social media platform.

Another problem I’ve noticed is brands creating content without a marketing and social media strategy in place. What are your goals and objectives? Who are your prospect personas? Is your message consistent with your mission, and will it resonate with your prospects? What do you want people to do after they read your content? These are questions that must be considered before implementing social media.

MB&A: How can these mistakes be fixed?

KC: First of all, slow down! As in all things, a little planning can save a world of hurt.

It’s much easier to plan a content calendar if you have a marketing strategy and plan. Then, when prospects encounter your brand on and offline, they’ll know what to expect. They will understand your brand’s voice, mission and products. Then they can begin to establish a relationship with your organization.

Consider who is representing your brand. Do you want an untrained employee speaking on behalf of your organization? Have you involved your marketing and PR teams in your business planning? Hire with a critical eye. Just because someone knows how to use technology, does not always equip them with the business expertise to do so.

MB&A: How do social media blunders impact the industry?

KC: If you create content without a strategy, people won’t know who you are as a brand. You won’t have a consistent voice. Potential customers will lose interest and they won’t trust that you are an authority on the subject. According to Forrester, individuals read 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchasing decision. You want your content to resonate with them so that they will consider your input and your brand when making a purchase.

When big brands make mistakes in social media, it makes businesses take pause and often decide to avoid social media all together. Using inexperienced personnel or those without industry expertise could impact the choice of content or the delivery of the message. This makes social media a harder sell to large brands.

MB&A: What is the most important takeaway from past social media mistakes?

KC: Don’t ignore your digital footprint–monitor your brand for opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade. If you are listening online, you can react before there is a social media firestorm. Read comments that individuals make about your organization. This is an opportunity for you to improve your organization and the way you are perceived in the marketplace, as well as win loyal advocates.

Kathy is an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional with marketing, advertising, public relations, business development, sales management and copywriting experience for numerous organizations. She provides coaching, training and public speaking on social media strategy and platforms for clients, marketing professionals, job seekers, students and community organizations