Social media can be a great tool for businesses to use in order to interact with their customer base, to advertise and to conduct research. But for all the good it can achieve it can also go horribly wrong and undermine years of hard work.
Below are a few examples of social media backfiring for companies often in quite a light hearted fashion but all with some consequence to the image of the brand.
You may have seen some of these before whilst browsing the internet but it is always good to be reminded about the perils of social media!
Many celebrities and brands alike have conducted question and answer sessions on Twitter. Whilst this can be a great tool to interact with customers in a friendly way and answer some of their burning issues, it also has the potential to go wrong.
We have seen many examples of question and answer sessions being ‘hijacked’ by internet users in order to troll or take the mickey out of the person or celebrity in question.
For example, the footballer Steven Gerrard held a Q&A session which quickly got hijacked by rival fans to direct tweets at him, some light hearted and some downright insulting! To rub salt into the wound, one user simply asked ‘you sorry you started this now?’.
McDonald’s however is an example of a Twitter question and answer session done well. They encouraged their customers to direct questions at them so they could answer them and dispel some rumours. Instead of keeping this on Twitter, they created a brand new website which hosted all the sensible questions and allowed McDonald’s to effectively communicate with their customers. Well played!
Who has Access to your Social Media Administration? – HMV
The retail chain HMV had to make redundancies back in 2013 which did not sit well with their employees. In fact, to express their displeasure, some employees took over the company’s official Twitter account to post ‘live updates’ about the events.
Tweets such as ‘There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution of loyal employees who love the brand #hmvXFactorFiring’. This, of course proved greatly embarrassing for the HMV brand and serves to remind managers to know who has the passwords for the accounts in case of situations like this.
Don’t be a Robot – American Airlines
It can be tempting to use auto replies on social media, especially for large companies who get many tweets directed at them each day. But sometimes it can pay to take the time and respond to people with real replies rather than pre written ones.
An example of this in practice is a famous blunder by the American Airlines brand. American Airlines had just completed a merger with US Airways and one not so impressed customer tweeted them an expletive ridden tweet with his thoughts on the merger. American Airlines had clearly employed the use of automatic responses to tweets mentioning their name which thanked the user for his support and looked forward to a bright future. This obviously caused some embarrassment to the company and they quickly deleted the tweet.
This just shows the importance of employing a real person to handle social media issues who can post appropriately on the company’s behalf rather than risking the embarrassment of the auto-tweet!
Be Tactful – Bing
There are a few examples of companies jumping on bandwagons to promote their brand which is fine in theory but some have taken this one step too far in the eyes of the public.
Take, the search engine Bing as a textbook example. During the time of the Japan earthquake in 2011 Bing launched a Twitter campaign to donate $1 to the appeal for every retweet the tweet gained. This may seem like a charitable act but he company to donate to an emergency situation but the users of Twitter did not see it this way.
The tweet was perceived by many to be jumping on a situation of human suffering in order to promote their brand which caused widespread anger at the brand and spawned its own hashtag attacking Bing.
Bing then tried to make amends by issuing an apology but spawned more displeasure amongst users as their apology wasn’t actually much of an apology rather a statement expressing their regret that the tweet was negatively perceived.
This one is bound to stand the test of time as a classic example of a social media faux pas.
Check your Hashtag! – Susan Boyle
And finally, one for the dirty minds! Susan Boyle’s publicity team used the hashtag #susanalbumparty to promote her new album launch back in 2012. Susan album party seems like a perfectly appropriate hashtag for this event, but if your sense of humour is of a certain persuasion you may have noticed what is wrong with it!
Genuine mistake or genius ploy to generate more interest in the album launch? We’ll let you decide!