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5 Note-Worthy #EpicFails Made By Big Brands on Social Media

Posted by on November 12th, 2015

Social media is a rapidly evolving landscape. It began as a platform for social enthusiasts to stay connected with current friends, and even to make new ones. Today, social media has turned into one of the primary avenues companies use to amplify their business to their target audience. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more are making “big bank” as a result of millions of marketers spending advertising dollars to get brands in front of specific audiences. Real-time data enables smart marketers to be successful, which in turn ensures that social media and online marketing will be around for a very, very long time to come.

But take heed: if you are not careful, even a seemingly insignificant social media mistake can result in horrible brand reputation. Who would have known that a company can actually be destroyed in only 140 characters? The wrong social media message can cost your brand millions or have you running crisis PR with your tail between your legs. Over the course of the years, I have read about simple social media errors that have had catastrophic effects on brands. Most of the errors could have been avoided by paying attention to detail or by having social media guidelines in place so all social media community managers can be well aware of best practices.

Now, let’s review some of the stand-out social media errors companies have made and let’s laugh, cry and learn how to do better. If your company’s reputation is at stake and you want to keep your job being in charge of a brand’s social media handle, this is a handy reference of mistakes you can easily avoid making on social media. Ready…set…go! (And feel free to leave comments about what you learn from the below list :)

US Airways’ Obscene Tweet – When responding to a customer on Twitter, a US Airways social media manager confused his personal Twitter feed for the company’s Twitter feed and sent out an inappropriate picture in a customer service tweet. Guess what happened to this social media community manager? #EpicFail

Twitter CFO Gaffe – Remember when the CFO of Twitter tweeted what was obviously meant to be a private message? The Tweet read, “I think we should buy them. He is on your schedule for Dec 15 or 16—we will need to sell him. I have a plan.” #AnotherTwitterCFOStepsDown

New York Times Staffer Tweets F*&% Bush Ah yes, the most common mistake of all. A New York Times staffer decided to express his disgust with Jeb Bush on his personal Twitter handle. To his surprise, the Bush campaign found out who he was and traced him back to his employment. Can you guess if this guy still works for the New York Times? When you’re a journalist at a reputable company, it’s #NoDice

DiGiorno Pizza: #WhyIStayed – One rule social media marketers should know is to always research a hashtag if you see it trending. Some conversations are not applicable to your brand. After a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer went viral, thousands of women banded together and started the #WhyIStayed hashtag to fight the victim-blaming attitude of Palmer’s critics. Kudos to DiGiorno for staying on top of the pulse of real-time conversations, but two thumbs down for not researching the hashtag before including their brand in the conversation.  #ResearchBeforeYouInsert

LG Takes Shots at iPhone…. From an iPhone? – LG took the opportunity to jump on top of the “iPhone Bendgate” bandwagon (when customers complained about the iPhone 6 bending) by hopping on social media to promote their bendy G Flex phone. The only problem was… the tweets were sent from an iPhone 6. When bashing a competitor on social media, try not to do it while using the competitor’s product! #CompetitorBashFail

Conclusion:  As a business, your social media handles are part of the digital representation of your brand. Without constant research on new trends, best practices and some careful premeditated thoughts, you’re playing the dangerous game of social media Russian roulette that can be detrimental to your brand. By treating social media as a viable facet of your business and devoting the requisite amount of time and resources to creating a well thought-out social media presence, your brand can benefit – not suffer – from social media.