The Learning Center
AKA... The Blog
AKA... The Blog
Social media can be a great platform for promoting your business and interacting with your customers. It can also be one of the most dangerous online environments for your company. One unthought out promotion or hasty emotional reply can snowball into a world of bad PR for your business. Here are some social media fails bound to make you shake your head, crack a smile, and even cringe.
Please be aware that some of these are offensive.
If your company doesn’t use its own products, at least make sure no one finds out. It doesn’t speak well for your product if you yourself don’t use it. Check out this great pic of a Blackberry phone, tweeted from an iPhone, by Blackberry.
— The Verge (@verge) January 13, 2015
Unfortunately tragic events seem to happen more and more often in our world. It is important to keep this in mind in regards to social media postings, especially if your brand or product can be loosely associated with an event. Here is an example of American Rifleman, an NRA affiliate journal, failing to remove a scheduled tweet the morning of the Aurora, Colorado cinema shooting. Social media automation can be a good thing, but it can also cause harm if you don’t keep any eye on it.
Ok, this technically isn’t social media, at least not by today’s standards, but it is funny. About a year ago Heinz decided to put a QR code on their ketchup bottles for a promotion they were running. The QR linked to the promotion’s website owned by Heinz. No real problem there, unless you consider using QR codes a problem. They went out of popularity 5 years ago.
The problem arose after the promotion was over. Heinz abandoned the website, and someone else bought it. The QR code on the many ketchup bottles still in circulation linked to a website Heinz had no control over. This website was a German porn site. Yes, Heinz customers were still scanning bottles and instead of entering a promotion they had no idea was dead, were being directed to a porn site. That’s some spicy ketchup. By the way, don’t scan the QR code below. Seriously, don’t.
The only lesson to be learned here is make sure you change your social media logins for employees you plan on firing, before you actually fire them. HMV learned this the hard way.
American Apparel needed a nice picture for their Tumblr page to celebrate the Fourth of July. They chose a stylish picture of smoke and clouds with a red background. They used #Smoke and #Clouds in the description. Unfortunately the picture was not smoke and clouds. It was the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion. They blamed it on ignorance. Just another example of why you should have as many people as you can look at your content before you post it.
Yet another example of why you should have others look at your content before posting.
You probably have at least one friend on social media exclaiming their political beliefs, maybe more than one. Maybe you even know some businesses that do it too. While nothing is wrong with this, there are some institutions that should be unbiased and not voice their opinions about politics. The United States Department of Justice is one of these institutions, but apparently they didn’t get the memo when an employee mistakenly tweeted on the DoJ’s twitter instead of their personal account. Always make sure you are on the correct social media account.
Bic, an inkpen company, posted this ad on their Facebook on National Women’s Day. Out of the four lines of text, all but one are offensive. As if a pen could even do these things for you.
We aren’t done with Bic yet, and while this might not be true social media, it is funny and does involve a social aspect. So apparently women need a pen specifically designed for them, and Bic answered the call with their Bic “For Her” pens. These pens seem no different from any other pen, but I guess they are easier for women to use? Do we really need another product pointlessly marketed toward a specific gender?
Here are some Amazon customer reviews on the product:
You can check out the full list of Amazon customer reviews here. Although Ellen sums it up pretty nicely.
Miracle Mattress in Texas posted a very offensive ad on their facebook during the anniversary of September 11th to promote a 9/11 themed sale. This caused mass outrage and the video was taken down.
Here is the video someone snagged and posted to YouTube before it was deleted:
This is more than a simple lesson in not using tragic events for self promotion. This was a complete oversight by their corporate office, and Miracle Mattress confessed to this in an apology they released. The real lesson here is this: if corporate is going to let individual stores handle their own marketing, they need some type of review process. Not only is this a good practice to ensure brand consistency, but it also helps ensure mistakes like this don’t happen.
Here is Miracle Mattress’s apology they posted on Facebook.
It is a lesson Miracle Mattress learned in the most brutal way. As a result of the video and its backlash, the store closed down as they established new review processes for marketing materials. They also did a complete assessment of employees before reopening the store. Needless to say, some employees probably weren’t with the store anymore.
Out of all these examples of social media fails, Miracle Mattress is by far the worst; however it does appear they took the most steps to make certain it wouldn’t happen again. Whether it’s cringe worthy or laugh worthy, a mistake on social media is hardly ever good for your company. Learn from these mistakes as hopefully these companies did. And if they didn’t, well, be on the lookout next year for another edition of social media fails.