Social media is so engrained in our lives these days, it’s no wonder businesses are tripping over themselves to get out there and participate in the conversation. However, sometimes the dedicated social teams representing a certain brand on social channels are not quite up to the task, which results in hilarity for the casual observer and disaster for the brand image.
We’ve had a look back on some of the more epic social media fails committed by companies in recent history – from mixing up celebrities and insensitive use of hashtags to poorly thought through social campaigns and taglines having gone a bit too far. Read on to learn from these seven brands’ mistakes:
Getting on the Twitter bandwagon during Oscar night in 2016 backfired for style blog Total Beauty, who committed an atrocious faux pas when they tweeted a picture of Whoopi Goldberg, confusing the star actress with another world-famous African American – Oprah Winfrey. To make matters worse, the Twitter fail happened in the year when the Oscars had already sparked controversy by being overly ‘white’. Awkward.
Cinnabon misguided tribute
Following the heart-breaking loss of the magnificent Carrie Fisher, Twitter was flooded with fans paying tribute to the spectacular woman. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with most viral tragedies, there’s always one company that tries to get involved with a sneaky product promotion. Cinnabon’s tweet of their Classic Roll in place of Leia’s famous Star Wars hair-do was insensitive in so many ways, not least of which the fact that Carrie herself hated the hairstyle. Shame on you Cinnabon!
In Soviet Cola
In an attempt to illustrate how much Russia loves Coca-Cola, the company tweeted a cartoon map of the country. Unfortunately, the marketing team must have missed out on their WWII history, because they used an outdated Russian map that doesn’t account for the areas annexed to the Soviet Union after the war. The Russian response was eloquently expressed through the hashtag #BanCocaCola and the pouring of litres of cola down toilets.
Fill in the blank gone wrong
The goal of most brands is, naturally, to get their social media followers involved. However, one needs to be careful when devising your campaign ideas. ALDI Australia clearly hadn’t put enough thought into the consequences their promo would have. As you’d expect, posting the ‘fill in the gap’ image prompted a huge number of vulgar responses by Twitter trolls. You should have known better, ALDI!
In their attempt to promote their advantage over the competition at Apple by focusing on their SD slot, Razer missed the PC mark. While it did gain nearly 5,000 likes, the ‘You call yourself Pro? S my D’ tweet caused quite the stir on social media, prompting Razer to delete the offensive post and issue an apology. The lesson here is valuable: make sure the minds of your PR team are not in the gutter when they are in charge of the company Twitter account.
The Trump bot
Perhaps one of the biggest technological mishaps in recent years is how the ‘personality’ of Microsoft’s AI Twitter bot Tay changed in less than a day. Having been designed to learn through conversation (which Microsoft have surely realised now was a huge oversight), Tay turned into a racist, misogynistic jerk thanks to the efforts of Twitter trolls who got her to repeat offensive slurs. Who’s to say the future of science isn’t bright!
Back in 2014, the PR team in charge of promoting Mastercard committed an awkward social (media) fail – they essentially attempted to bribe journalists into tweeting about Mastercard (the official sponsors of the Brits Awards) using the hashtag #PricelessSurprises by promising them the opportunity to officially cover the Awards. In an unfortunate turn of events, pissed off journalists did start tweeting using the hashtag #PricelessSurprises, but perhaps not quite in the way the PR company had imagined, as evidenced by this post:
If these epic social fails have caused you to rethink the amount of effort you need to be dedicating to your own social channels, you can contact our digital experts at Spindogs. We offer social media marketing advice and social media workshops you can take part of to polish your knowledge on the Dos and Don’ts of social channels.