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Corporate America embraces social media as a way to get the attention of consumers in an ever-more crowded digital space.

But those clever or hastily tweeted promotions also can create problems for a brand.

Just ask US Airways, the latest corporation to apologize for a post in bad taste that hit the Twittersphere.

After it inadvertently retweeted a pornographic photo Monday, US Airways is reviewing its social media policy, said Matt Miller, spokesman for American Airlines, which is merging with US Airways.

The US Airways example underscores how quickly mistakes go viral as companies interact with customers via social media.

"Brands are desperately trying to cut through the clutter, and they try to insert themselves into the conversation," said Carrie Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, a social media consultant for businesses, including Fortune 500 companies.

Social media gaffes can include messages that are off-putting or even offensive to intended audiences. In these cases, Kerpen said, brands need to listen more closely to how online conversations develop.

"The reality is that social media is a very human activity with real people having conversations," Kerpen said. "It leaves space for human error."

Big-name brands, including Kenneth Cole, Campbell, Chrysler and Home Depot, have had similar experiences with mistakes on social media.

MORE: US Airways apologizes for lewd photo on Twitte

In 2013, Kenneth Cole used the Syria conflict to try to sell shoes, tweeting, "'Boots on the ground' or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #footwear."

It's not the first time the fashion brand used a world event to try to sell its product. During the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the company tweeted, "Millions are in an uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." The tweet was removed and an apology tweeted.

SpaghettiOs marked the 2013 anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks with a picture of its smiling mascot holding an American flag.

Campbell Soup, the maker of SpaghettiOs, apologized for the tweet and said the Twitter account is managed internally, not by an agency. Campbell has since created a social media hub where content that's posted online is reviewed and social networks are monitored for all its brands, said Tom Hushen, company spokesman.

In Chrysler's case, an employee with Chrysler's social media agency was fired over a tweet in 2011 that read, "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive."

Kerpen said companies should have a contingency plan, including whom to contact immediately when something goes wrong on social media. The best thing to do is take responsibility for the mistake and correct it quickly. "If you shy away, what it says is that your mistake defines you," Kerpen said.

In November 2013, Home Depot promptly took down a tweet after posting a picture of two African-American drummers and one drummer wearing a gorilla mask, with the question, "Which drummer is not like the others?"

The company has updated its social media procedures since the incident, including putting in place a "new approval system," Stephen Holmes, spokesman for Home Depot, said in an e-mail.

On the bright side, "as cruel as the Internet can be, it also forgets," Kerpen said.

Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.

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