Learning from Social Media’s Biggest Blunders

by | January 11th, 2013

When Tweeting Backfires

Every Wednesday, three PINT team members take the lead on researching an interesting web or technology-related topic. They then organize a short 30-minute snack break for a casual presentation and discussion with the larger group.

This week Dave (Production), Bryant (Account Services), and Danielle (Project Management) gave a stimulating (and at some points painful!) presentation highlighting some of the biggest social media blunders made by big brands. The topic initiated discussion on how other companies can avoid similar missteps, or how they can rebound from a mistake in the event one occurs.

The presentation divides these Social Media failures into 4 categories:

Bad Timing and Social Media Etiquette

Brands that have used catastrophic events, such as natural disasters and extremely violent events, as a means to launch an advertising campaign. (ex.  Gap, American Apparel, NRA)

Personal Tweeting on Public Accounts

Brands that have sent out damaging tweets to their collective of followers that was meant for a personal account. (ex. Red Cross, Microsoft, StubHub)

Hashtag Etiquette

Brands that have offended or angered a consumer base, due to inappropriate, and often insensitive, use of hashtags and trending topics, usually as a result of a lack of research or knowledge on the trending topic (ex. Entenmanns, Progressive, Ashton Kutcher)

Customer-led Branding Campaigns

Social Media campaigns started positively by Brands, but led awry by customers.   (ex. McDonalds #McDStories Tag, Starbucks #SpreadTheCheer Campaign)

View the Presentation

Check out the presentation below for an in-depth look at some of the biggest social media failures made by big companies and how they handled them:

Social media faux pas from PINT, Inc.

How would you handle these situations if it was your brand and what can be done to help avoid these similar situations in the future?

Further Reading

Scott Stratten considers many of these blunders “hiring issues.” Rather than trying to control and enforce strict social media policies, he calls for focusing more energy on hiring people who embody your values. Watch one of his talks below (if you don’t have a full hour to spare, some great & relevant social media tips come in around 38:00)