RocketsThe NBA finals are well underway and social media is buzzing about which teams have a shot at the title. Last night, James Harden and the Houston Rockets knocked the Dallas Mavericks out of the NBA Playoffs in 5 games in grand fashion. The Rockets topped the Mavs in nearly every category: points per game, rebounds, assists.

Unfortunately for the players, Houston’s media team didn’t fare as well. Near the end of their 103-94 victory, this tweet appeared on their Twitter feed, suggesting the Mavs succumb to their inevitable end and enraging Dallas’ fan base.

Don’t get me wrong, anyone can get caught up in the emotions of a big event from time to time. But brands, especially brands as influential as professional sports teams, must keep their cool, show respect, and express gratitude for their success. Being humble is being classy.

The Rockets’ social media team attempted to alleviate the problem by deleting their rogue tweet. But as we know, the internet never forgets. As of this writing, the top stories when you Google “Houston Rockets” don’t deal with their victory over the Mavs, but rather deleted their tweet.

So, what’s a brand to do? If you own a company or run the social media accounts for one, knowledge is power. Here are three steps to take to ensure your company/organization doesn’t end up apologizing for a social media post-gone-wrong:

  1. 1. Have a plan: Set guidelines for social media posts. Have designated people in place that understand the importance of your brand’s voice.
  2. 2. Keep it real: Be honest. Be sincere. Be respectful. If the Rockets would have thanked their fans for their support instead of dogging the Mavs, we wouldn’t be talking about this issue.
  3. 3. Hire a pro: Many companies can benefit from the efforts of a public relations partnership. Often times, employing an unbiased partner can lift your brand and prevent crises from arising.

This isn’t the first time an organization got it wrong when it comes to social media. But hopefully we can all learn from the Houston Rockets mistakes. Here are a few takeaways.

  1. 1. Even in competition, respect is important…and expected by the public.
  2. 2. Social media posts are global, instant, and never die, even when you delete them.
  3. 3. When you make a mistake, sincerely apologize to those offended – which the Rockets did.
  4. 4. If needed, bring in a public relations professional to help your team.

This morning, James Harden and Co. likely woke up with joy and excitement in their hearts for their series against either the Clippers or the Spurs.  We can only wish the Rockets social media team could have had the same experience.