There are failures and then there are epic fails. When it comes to marketing, obviously it’s the goal to avoid both. However, the world is not perfect and neither is the person managing social media for your business or organization.
The conditions are ripe for an epic social media marketing fail if there is a lack of basic marketing know-how, intuition, and just plain good sense. It’s so important that the person you choose to run those social accounts is vetted and trustworthy…and not disgruntled. Keep them happy for the love of all that’s holy!
In order to create a social brand that everyone raves about, it’s really good practice to learn from the mistakes of others. Just do a little digging on the internet and you will find a treasure trove of terrible social media campaigns. For now, I’ll spare you the research and share 5 epic social media blunders from 2013.
Automated Responses are Bad News
Last February, Ross Sheingold of the social media agency Laundry Service, saw that @AmericanAir had responded to a frustrated customer with a tweet that wasn’t quite applicable to the situation.
The story goes that the company was using an automated service to respond to any @message they received.
The Takeaway: Auto-tweets and responses are always a bad idea. Any social media account should be managed by an actual human being with a beating heart and a brain. This makes the experience with the customer authentic and real – like the company actually cares about what they have to say.
Don’t Post Racist Stuff
Seems like a no brainer. If there is even a modicum of hesitation about posting anything, it might be a good idea to hold off. And that’s probably what the agency responsible for this Home Depot tweet should have done. This one tweet had Twitter all abuzz arguing whether it was racist or not. Twitter ultimately deleted the tweet and fired the agency that posted it.
The Takeaway: Regardless of how you might interpret an image or comment, be extremely cautious of offending your online community. If you have any hesitation on something you want to post, hold off and ask someone else’s opinion. It’s so worth the wait.
Keep Your Accounts Secure
The Twitter account for Burger King was hacked by someone posing as McDonalds for just a little over one hour last February before the company reached Twitter and had them suspend the account. The hacker wrote 55 tweets that included racial epithets and references to drugs. Burger King issued and apology to its users and welcomed its new followers.
The Takeaway: Though this appeared to be the effect of a Twitter security breach, it’s a good idea to keep those accounts locked up tight, folks! Don’t make everyone in the office a manager on your accounts and don’t give everyone the password. This is need-to-know basis only type stuff.
Lets Offer Them Scones!
Breakfast was the last thing on the minds of anyone involved with the tragedy surrounding last April’s Boston Marathon. That didn’t stop food website, Epicurious, from glomming onto the headline to promote two of its recipes.
Twitter users let Epicurious know that they had made a huge and disrespectful mistake. Even their apology was criticized.
The Takeaway: Do not capitalize on tragedy. It’s tacky and disrespectful. And people always hate it.
Keep Your ‘Tude In Check
After the owners of Amy’s Baking Company were featured on Gordon Ramsey’s show, Kitchen Nightmares, they were berated by a torrent of by hateful comments regarding their behavior on the show. One evening, they took to Facebook to defend themselves and it turned ugly quickly; the more they posted, the more people responded with nasty comments.
The owners claimed that all of their social accounts had been hacked and that they were working with the FBI to keep their accounts secure in the future.
The Takeaway: If you have an irate commenter, the best policy is to stay calm and respond appropriately. This shows them that you are willing to hear what they have to say and take their opinion seriously. No matter how mean the comment, keep your feelings out of it.
There is a common thread through all of these social media blunders: a gross lack of respect for their followers. Even if the poster has the best of intentions, they missed the mark. By a lot. Speaking to someone on social media, though not face-to-face, is really no different than speaking to them in person. Interacting in a kind and thoughtful manner will get you everywhere.
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