How to write the perfect apology on social media

By Grazel Gueco

So you’re in the middle of a PR crisis and people are just going at you or your brand on social media. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. What if we told you there was a way to come out of it victorious, leaving you unscathed? 

It’s totally possible, and it all depends on how well you apologise. 

Crafting the perfect apology is definitely not easy. We’ve seen way too many brands ruin their reputation over a half-hearted apology. So…what do you say? How do you say it? And how do you know whether or not it’s even worth saying at all? We’re here to help answer those questions with a cheat sheet for crafting the perfect apology on social media.

1. Acknowledge the mistake

First, give a brief recap of the situation at hand. Don’t try to minimise the situation or make excuses. Paint a picture of how people felt about the situation, and address the specific issue head-on. 

You don’t have to explain yourself or make excuses—in fact, doing so can come off as insincere and will only anger people further. Instead, take a moment to reflect on what happened and what role you played in it.

2. Empathise and show understanding

Empathy is one of the most important elements of any apology. Empathy is about seeing the world from someone else’s perspective, which makes it both an art and a science. 

It’s not enough to just say “I’m sorry.” You also need to show that you understand the people affected by your misstep, and that you recognize why they’re upset. If something negative happened because of your actions or words, then show that you understand the situation from their perspective as well.

3. Validate the experiences of people who were affected by your mistake

You have to agree with the negative feedback customers have been saying. This signals that you are on their side and that you or your brand are mature enough to admit your mistakes. 

Listen to what words customers say online so you can reflect it back to them in your apology. This can look like saying “We agree that our actions were disrespectful and weren’t in line with our values.” 

4. Offer an apology 

The next step is to offer a sincere apology. This is where the word ‘Sorry’ comes in. 

Avoid trying to justify your actions; it’s not helpful or necessary at this point in time. An effective apology focuses on the problem, not the person who caused it. Your job is simply to take responsibility for what happened, and then work toward making things right again by offering solutions that benefit everyone involved.

5. Explain how you’ll make up for it and do better 

An apology isn’t complete without the intention to do better next time. Let them know what steps you are taking to address this issue moving forward—in other words: How will you prevent this from happening again? What actions will you take to improve?

You can talk about the new policies your brand is implementing in light of the incident, and the reparations you will offer to anyone affected by it.

6. Set up a feedback form 

The next step is to set up a form where people can give you feedback. The great thing about setting up a form is that it allows users who might not feel comfortable speaking out loud in the comments section a way of giving feedback anonymously—it’s important that we hear from all sides! 

You can get many insights from the form to avoid situations like this again. This can be a learning experience for your company, and even a positive one in the end!

Ready to start saying ‘sorry’?

A good apology is sincere, empathetic, takes responsibility, and offers solutions. 

Reach out to our expert team of community managers if you need help formulating an apology statement, so you can turn this PR disaster into a blessing in disguise.