How to Avoid the Social Media Stupidity of These Four Brands


Social media is a great place for companies to engage consumers (or infuriate them), gain media attention (sometimes the bad type of attention) and promote their brand (or promote boycotting their brand).

Sure, we've all made a mistake or two on social media (just ask Anthony Weiner), but it's a place where brands need to be extra cautious of what they say.

Here are four companies that have made major social media mistakes - and what we can learn from them. Perhaps you've heard of these blunders before but it would seem there can never be enough tutelage in this space.


The clothing company managed to use two social media platforms at once - and offend using both. While people were trying to survive and keep their family safe during this life-threatening storm, Gap decided to post an insensitive tweet:


Sure, they mentioned "stay safe!" But connecting this ad for and checking-in on Foursquare at "Frankenstorm Apocalypse" was not appropriate during this disaster.

Learn from it: Be sensitive to what is happening in the world - from start to finish. Mentioning those impacted by disaster does not justify the rest of your tweet. And never trivialize a situation even in an attempt at humor.


You might not remember this company, but they made national news at the beginning of 2013. This British grocery store was involved in a horse meat scandal - food they sold advertised as beef actually contained horse meat.

Soon after the scandal, Tesco tweeted:


Between the scandal itself and "hit the hay", this pre-scheduled tweet could not have gone worse.

Learn from it: Pre-scheduled tweets sure are convenient, but they can be disastrous. Take the few extra minutes every day to post your own tweets. Too busy for that? Hire a (professional) social media manager. At the least, be ever vigilant of events that can impact your brand.


Speaking of social media managers...

During the presidential debate, President Barack Obama mentioned his late grandmother who passed away just before he was elected president in 2008. KitchenAid tweeted:


The social media manager obviously thought this was his/her personal account. Unfortunately for KitchenAid, more than its 24,000 followers saw this - the tweet gained national media attention.

Learn from it: Be careful who you hire. Sure, anyone can make a mistake, but hire someone (or an agency) with experience and a clean slate. And separate your business and personal social media tools.


Most recently, SpaghettiOs made a foolish mistake. And they should've known better from AT&T's September 11 tweet.

It was the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. SpaghettiOs decided to remember it with this:


Their mascot with an American flag. Quite patriotic. Or maybe just attention-seeking.

Learn from it: Don't use every opportunity to advertise. Any publicity is not always good publicity. There is a wrong time and place to promote your brand. In a nutshell, use common sense.

Two Easy To-Dos:

So what's the best way to engage consumers and gain the right kind of media attention?

Be sensitive - Like what your mother taught you: walk a mile in someone else's shoes. These serious disasters, like the Pearl Harbor attacks and Hurricane Sandy, might not be devastating to your company, but they are to other individuals. Be generous and offer what you have.

Example: When Fire Island, NY was struck by the Superstorm Sandy, Verizon brought fiber-optic Internet to the city. As a result, the company gained positive media attention.

Respond quickly - Whether you make a major mistake or not, make sure you have an almost immediate response. It'll show that you care and appreciate their

Example: Jet Blue is known for its excellent customer service, especially via Twitter. The company will help you reschedule a frustrated customer's new flight, engage with satisfied customers and more - earning them positive attention.

This guest post was written by Michelle Smith.

by Steve Hall    Jan- 7-14   Click to Comment   
Topic: Social