We all enjoy a good online train wreck. That is – as long as you aren’t the one at its center.
Learn by example – these brands paid for their social goofs, so you can avoid them in the future.
Pssst: Want to increase your social media results from marketing? Click here!
Rhode Iceland Tourism
When you think glaciers and volcanoes, does “Rhode Island” immediately come to mind? The state found themselves in hot water after shrewd viewers noticed scenes of Iceland, not Rhode Island, in their tourism video. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation dubbed it an “honest mistake” and quickly pulled the video.
Lesson Learned: Be authentic and honest. Customers are more savvy than ever and less likely to trust brands. You’ll gain more respect and loyalty by being honest than trying to make yourself look better.
Amazon Prime Day 2015
“When I die I want whoever’s responsible for #AmazonPrimeDay to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.” – Unknown
— Mmm, Tasty 🥃 (@HitEm20) July 15, 2015
It was such a good idea on paper: the world’s largest online retailer offering one-day deals and driving thousands of sales. What could go wrong? Turns out, you need to discount things people actually want. After much hype, the first Amazon Prime Day featured deals on random, seemingly overstock items such as Walkmans and napkins. And on desired products, the deals were laughably silly (like 10 cents off a $400 PlayStation 4). It wasn’t long before #PrimeDayFail started trending on Twitter.
Lesson Learned: Follow through with your promises. The internet creates another level of accountiblity. People can – and will – hold you to your words.
Ted Cruz “Likes” Porn
Senator Ted Cruz found himself at the head of an embarrassing scandal when Twitter users found a naughty video hiding on his public Twitter likes. The pornographic video was quickly “unliked” and Cruz blamed the incident on a “staffing issue.”
Lesson Learned: Remember everything you do is public. Regardless of whoever “liked” the Tweet, in the end the damage was done. Remember that your other social media activities – not just posting – are visible to your audience.
HMV Mass Firing Livetweeting
In one cringeworhty PR goof, HMV’s official twitter account began livetweeting a mass firing of employees. The company started laying people off – while employees in the office still had control of their social networks. The disgruntled employees gave play-by-play descriptions of the debacale until the official accounts were seized back, but not before their brand was tarnished in the eyes of their customers.
Lesson Learned: Know who has control of your social media. Before you take any sort of drastic action, make sure that you know exactly who has control of your social media channels.
JP Morgan Q&A Backfires
Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success? #AskJPM
— Amy Hunter (@amy10506) November 13, 2013
Brands on social are always looking for ways to engage their audience. JP Morgan decided to try their hand at a Q&A session, encouraging followers to tweet questions to their Vice Chairman. The plan backfired when the public, still angry over various scandals, used the hashtag to mercilessly slam the brand.
Lesson Learned: Mind your timing. It’s always important to pay attention to the political, economical and social environment surrounding your business.
Chrysler Drops the F Bomb
Anyone who manages multiple accounts knows how easy it is to accidentally Tweet from the wrong page. One Chrysler employee learned that lesson the hard way when they took to Twitter to vent about traffic…and posted to the Chrysler account, not their personal. They were fired shortly after.
Lesson Learned: Don’t mix public and private accounts. Always triple-check before posting anything that you’re logged into the correct account.
Sean Spicer Possibly Tweets Password
On January 26th, then Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted out a cryptic string of letters and numbers that looked suspiciously like a password. This was the second time in a week he had tweeted out a similar tweet. Twitter immediately began speculating (and mocking) the Tweet. Spicer never confirmed if the numbers were a password or simple butt-dial, leaving the mystery unsolved.
Lesson Learned: Experiment with social before using your public account. Whether the string of numbers was a password or just a butt-dial, it’s a good reminder to familiarize yourself with how social networks function before posting.
A Tweet that gripped a nation. When President Donald Trump dropped this bizarre Tweet, Twitter users and media outlets alike flew into a frenzy trying to decipher it. “Covfefe” quickly became a meme, and a legend.
Lesson Learned: Remember to read before pressing send. It’s easy to get caught up in excitment (especially on whirlwind platforms like Twitter) but it’s always important to remember to check your work before pososting.
“Just Kidding. I’m White!”
Proving that even people who should know better don’t always know better, PR Executive Justine Sacco became Public Enemy #1 of the internet after posting this racist joke to Twitter. On her 11 hour flight, Sacco was oblvious as the online hordes demanded blood. She landed to hundreds of messages, frantic phonecalls and no job.
Lesson Learned: Skip the edgy humor. Just…don’t.
Crocs Ill-Received Bowie Tribute
While the world processed the death of legend David Bowie, many took to Twitter to vent their feelings and pay tribute. Many brands stepped up as well, but when Crocs tried to pay tribute, it backfired. Users thought the Tweet an insensitive promotion of their own product, and Crocs removed it within an hour.
Lesson Learned: Tread with caution. Celebrity tributes are areas where we repeatedly see brands flounder. Avoid any tribute that promotes your brand – instead, focus on the person you’re paying tribute to.
Now go out there and get social – just keep these tips in mind.
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