Social media campaigns are some of the best ways to market almost any organization but there are some pitfalls when using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to represent your company or institution.
While hundreds of businesses and groups enjoy great success with social media campaigns, others have fallen flat on their corporate faces through runaway Twitter hashtags, posts from rogue employees and raunchy Facebook updates. Some of these epic online fails have caused great embarrassment or pain while others have just been downright funny.
Capitalizing on Awful Events
While many botched social media posts are innocent mistakes, others are insensitive or just downright mean-spirited. For example, #Aurora was trending on July 20, 2012, after the cinema shootings in Aurora Colorado. Celeb Boutique tweeted “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress.” Newsweek magazine showed poor taste when it used #MuslimRage to promote an article. Almost nobody warmed up to Urban Outfitters’ attempt to cash in on a terrible blizzard striking the nation by offering free shipping.
Unlikable Facebook posts
Social media has been beneficial for cooking and do-it-yourself crowd, especially when combined with television into a multimedia presentation. Martha Stewart and Ree Drummond are two excellent examples of marketing across multiple platforms, using social media to advertise a television series and vice versa.
Amy’s Baking Company is an example of multimedia marketing gone terribly wrong. The owners of Amy’s Baking Company, Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, suffered a very public meltdown on Facebook after the off-the-hook host of the television cooking show, Kitchen Nightmares, said the couple too difficult to work with. You read that right – Gordon Ramsay thought the Bouzaglos were impossible.
After the episode aired, viewers took to the company’s Facebook page to air their feelings about the couple’s behavior on the television show. The Bouzaglos, speaking as the company, showed great depth and wisdom with the reply: “I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD.”
McDonalds hoped to inspired customers to tweet nostalgic accounts of meals eaten at that fast food restaurant with the Twitter hashtag #McDStories. Instead, unhappy customers and disgruntled employees used the hashtag to tell horror stories or air dirty laundry.
JPMorgan hashtag #AskJPM for a live Q&A session with financial guru, Jimmy Lee. Tweets included, “As a young sociopath, how can I succeed in finance?” and “What’s it like working with Mexican drug cartels? Do they tip?” JPMorgan waved the white flag after only a couple of hours, tweeting, “Tomorrow’s Q&A is canceled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.”
Engaging in good social media is important for every business but it is essential that you do it right. Consider hiring professional content marketing services if you thinking about creating or expanding your social media presence; qualified professionals can help you avoid turning hashtags and posts into social media disasters.
Lynn H is a medical writer and content marketing specialist. She works with B2B and B2C organizations to promote brand awareness and increase sales.