Money - Marketing
By: - at November 26, 2013

20 Horrible Social Media Mistakes Made by Companies

Dislike Social Media?Social media provides companies with the opportunity to communicate in creative ways with numerous people in an instant. While the process isn’t complicated in and of itself, it certainly can become fraught with complications. People can become easily offended, comments can be misinterpreted or just ill conceived and the backlash can be devastating for both individuals as well as companies. When it comes to social media, one learns to expect the unexpected and deal with it accordingly.


20)  KitchenAid – Obama’s Grandmother Tweet
Kitchen appliance specialist KitchenAid made one of the weirdest and most offensive tweets in 2012, right after President Barrack Obama won his second term in office. During his first presidential debate, Obama had mentioned his grandmother. After he won the election, KitchenAid thought it would be a great idea to correlate Obama’s victory with his grandmother’s death and its brand.

The company released a tweet that stated that Obama’s grandmother knew that another four year term would be so bad that she intentionally died days before the President won the election; the company’s 24,000 followers did not respond well to the remark. As a result, the company was forced to remove the tweet and apologize for the offensive statement. KitchenAid stated that the comment had come from an employee who had intended to post the tweet on his own personal Twitter account, not the company’s.

Kitchen appliance specialist KitchenAid made one of the weirdest and most offensive tweets in 2012, right after President Barrack Obama won his second term in office.


19)  StubHub – Stubsucking Tweet
Online marketplace StubHub had some issues with social media in 2012 when somebody posted a comment on the company’s Twitter account. The unknown tweeter used the F-word in reference to his delight that it was the end of the week and it referenced the company as a “stubsucking hell hole”.

The tweet remained on the account for about an hour before the business took it down and released an apology. Strangely, no explanation for the tweet was made to the press.

Online marketplace StubHub had some issues with social media in 2012 when somebody posted a comment on the company’s Twitter account.


18)  American Apparel – Hurricane Discount
You wouldn’t think that a devastating natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy would be an event that you’d use to promote your products but in 2012 American Apparel thought otherwise. The retailer made light of the tragedy when it offered a 20% discount to anyone residing in the states affected by the hurricane.

While the gesture didn’t sound like a bad idea on paper, it was the promotion angle that was not so good. The company suggested that people who were “bored” by the tragedy alleviate such doldrums through shopping. Rather than going to the mall to buy their clothing,  potential customers went to a variety of social media networks and expressed their disgust with the promotion.

You wouldn’t think that a devastating natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy would be an event that you’d use to promote your products but in 2012 American Apparel thought otherwise.


17)  The Gap – Hurricane Sandy Tweet
The Gap was another retail store that inexplicably thought Hurricane Sandy took the opportunity to promote their products. As the storm approached the East Coast, the Gap issued a tweet that encouraged people in the affected areas to turn to online shopping for all their retail needs. The company later removed the tweet with only a half-hearted apology.

The Gap was another retail store that inexplicably thought Hurricane Sandy took the opportunity to promote their products.


16)  Macy – Donald Trump
Donald Trump might be a great businessman but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be good for a company’s image. Macy’s confirmed that this was the case when they signed him up as a company spokesperson.

The high end retailer was forced to drop Trump as their “face” when the real estate mogul inevitably embarked on a self indulgent publicity stunt. In 2012, he offered $5 million for documentation that offered proof of President Obama’s U.S. citizenship.

The documentation was forthcoming but it came in the form of a petition signed by a half million people. The petitioners demanded that the store end their association with Trump. Macy’s Twitter and Facebook pages were also flooded with complaints about the company’s relationship with “the Donald”.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump might be a great businessman but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be good for a company’s image.
By Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Macy's
Macy’s Twitter and Facebook pages were also flooded with complaints about the company’s relationship with “the Donald”.
By Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons


Gilbert Gottfried
In 2011, when a tsunami struck Japan, comedian Gilbert Gottfried made a number of tweets regarding the tragedy.
By Alan Light, via Wikimedia Commons

15)  Aflac – Gilbert Gottfried

In 2011, when a tsunami struck Japan, comedian Gilbert Gottfried made a number of tweets regarding the tragedy. Always an edgy comic, the jokes were completely inappropriate and incredibly insensitive as well as rude.

At the time, Gottfried was the spokesperson for the insurance company Aflac. With a large branch in Japan, Gottfried was immediately fired and distanced from the company. Aflac also made a donation to the International Red Cross to help with relief efforts in connection with the storm.

Aflac
With a large branch in Japan, Gottfried was immediately fired and distanced from the Aflac.


14)  Lowe’s – Facebook Comments
Lowe’s, one of America’s biggest home improvement stores, in 2011 decided to pull its ads from a reality based TV show about Muslims. The company placed a note about the decision on their Facebook page.

In turn, Lowe’s received over 23,000 responses. Most of the comments criticized the company’s decision but some of the remarks, with overt racist undertones, celebrated the move. Lowe’s took no action regarding the offensive statements, until the media caught wind of the story.

Ultimately, Lowe’s ended up removing every comment on the page and released an apology for not acting sooner. The company claimed it was respecting people’s rights of freedom of speech by not responding to the racist comments.

Lowe’s got more than 7,000 outraged responses in reply to the company’s questionable apology and explanation of the incident.


Lowe’s, one of America’s biggest home improvement stores, in 2011 decided to pull its ads from a reality based TV show about Muslims.





13)  Chrysler – Swearing Tweet
Sometimes, a business can suffer some damage to its reputation when it outsources its work to another individual or company. Car manufacturer Chrysler discovered this reality in 2011, when an intern for the company’s social media account vented his frustrations about the city of Detroit.

The intern stated that it was ironic that no one in Detroit could drive while using the F-word, despite the fact that it was referred to as the “Motor City” and was a well known car manufacturing center. The individual responsible for the tweet was fired but not before the comment was re-tweeted numerous times.

An intern for the Chrysler's  social media account vented his frustrations about the city of Detroit.


12)  GoDaddy – Elephant Slaughter
The CEO of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, in 2011 not only made the questionable decision to kill an elephant but also chose to brag about it via social media. When he uploaded footage relating to the killing on YouTube, he also tweeted about his “achievement”.

In his mind, Parsons had done something noble as there were issues regarding elephant habitats where the incident took place. Tweeting and posting footage related to the controversial slaughter of an animal is not exactly intelligent, especially when the comment is made by a high profile figure.

Parsons was severely chastised by PETA for his questionable actions and the ill conceived publicity he created.

Bob Parsons
The CEO of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, in 2011 not only made the questionable decision to kill an elephant but also chose to brag about it via social media.
By Parsonsrep, via Wikimedia Commons


11)  KFC – YouTube Video
In 2007, a KFC outlet became infested with rats. When the media got hold of the story, KFC thought they could remedy the situation with a press release. The company insisted that the incident was just a one time event and that the situation would be addressed immediately. Officials added that the outlet, where the infestation occurred, would not be re opened until it had been fully sanitized.

Unfortunately, KFC underestimated the power of the media and the Internet. Thanks to YouTube, news of the problem spread globally, thereby causing the brand to suffer as a result. Customers reasoned that if one KFC restaurant was infested, others might possess the same problem too.

In 2007, a KFC outlet became infested with rats.
By Nicholas Moreau, via Wikimedia Commons


10)  United Airlines Breaks the Wrong Guy's Guitar
United Airlines learned the hard way about the widespread power and influence of social media. One of the airline’s passengers, David Carroll, in 2009 had his guitar broken when he was traveling on a United Airline’s plane.

When the company didn’t bother to adequately compensate Carroll for his loss, he wrote, performed and recorded a song slamming the company then he uploaded his performance on YouTube. Within days of the video’s posting, United Airline’s stock price plummeted by 10%. The song and clip became a worldwide hit, it has received more than 10,000,000 views to date.

United Airlines learned the hard way about the widespread power and influence of social media
By skinnylawyer, via Wikimedia Commons


9)  The Associated Press – White House Explosions Tweet
In 2013, social media took a strange turn when the Associated Press announced on Twitter that two bombs had been detonated in the White House and that President Obama was injured.

It appeared that someone had hacked into the account and made the false post but the consequences of the prank were far reaching as well as serious. As a result of the post, the New York Stock Exchange had what is known as a “flash crash”. The market plummeted about 150 points in only a two minute time span.

In 2013, social media took a strange turn when the Associated Press announced on Twitter that two bombs had been detonated in the White House and that President Obama was injured.
By Alterego, via Wikimedia Commons


8)  Kryptonite Evolution 2000 U Lock and Pen
The Kryptonite Evolution 200 U Lock was supposed to be the strongest and most secure bike lock available. Then one customer discovered that the supposedly reliable lock could be picked with a ballpoint pen. The customer blogged about his discovery, which caused the media to pick up the story.

While the story was originally covered by small media outlets, the New York Times also got wind of the news. The lock company refused to make any comment about the report and did not respond to the posting on the blog.

The Kryptonite Evolution 200 U Lock was supposed to be the strongest and most secure bike lock available.
By


7)  Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg Personal Images
If there’s one person who is the unofficial “face” of social media, it’s the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Therefore, you would think that he would be the last person to make any error in relation to the social media business. While Zuckerberg has assured Facebook users that their personal information is safe, his words came back to bite him when his own personal Facebook account was hacked.

In 2011, the hackers stole Zuckerberg’s personal images from his FB account and posted them on the site called Imgur along with a statement that referenced Facebook’s lack of security. Needless to say, the breach was indisputably a “social” embarrassment. The privacy settings on the site were immediately upgraded after the incident.

If there’s one person who is the unofficial “face” of social media, it’s the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.
By Guillaume Paumier, via Wikimedia Commons


6)  McDonald’s – Twitter Hashtags
As a result of allegations in the press and some bad experiences by consumers, McDonald’s has, over time, developed a bad reputation. In 2012, McDonald’s attempted to counter its poor brand image by introducing the Twitter promotions #mcdstories and #meetthefarmers.

The effort was supposed to humanize the company and those who had worked for it. Instead, the endeavor backfired when both abused customers and exploited workers used the hashtags to detail their respective horror stories relating to the already suspect company.

When all was said and done, the McDonald’s promotion only served to verify the public’s poor perception of the restaurant giant.

McDonald’s attempted to counter its poor brand image by introducing the Twitter promotions #mcdstories and #meetthefarmers.


 

5)  Snickers – Twitter Ads
A company using celebrities to promote its product is certainly not a new concept. In fact, most high profile companies have used celebrities at some point to encourage sales and increase their influence but product endorsements must be specifically noted in some countries. Overlooking this rule got Snickers in trouble in the UK and in 2012, the candy bar maker hired celebrities to take pictures of themselves enjoying a Snickers on Twitter.

The UK's Office of Fair Trading investigated the publicity stunt and Snickers was eventually cleared of any official wrongdoing. However, the subsequent media attention and public reaction didn’t reflect well on the company nor the celebrities involved.

Snickers in trouble in the UK and in 2012, the candy bar maker hired celebrities to take pictures of themselves enjoying a Snickers on Twitter.


4)  National Rifle Association – Aurora Tweet
The NRA receives bad publicity, which generally occurs as the result of its seemingly bad timing. Perhaps the most notable instance occurred in 1999, when the NRA convention was held shortly after the Columbine High School shooting incident.

Another incredible instance of bad timing arose in 2012, during the mass shooting at the Aurora cinema in Colorado. Right in the middle of the shooting spree a publication that is closely associated with the NRA sent out a tweet that wished all shooters a “Happy Friday”.

The NRA defended itself by saying the tweet was automated and in no way was timed to coincide with the massacre. However, the organization realized its response was a mistake and  in turn deleted the tweet as well as the account.

The NRA receives bad publicity, which generally occurs as the result of its seemingly bad timing.


3)  CelebBoutique – Aurora Tweet
CelebBoutique is an online fashion store that specializes in celebrity inspired fashion and it regularly keeps up to date with celebrity news but the company apparently hasn’t been so concerned with other kinds of news events. This omission led to an epic social media blunder in 2012 during the Aurora cinema shooting spree. During the occurrence, the company’s PR department noticed that the word “Aurora” was trending on Twitter.

In response, CelebBoutique released a tweet, where it unknowingly made light of the horrific event. The company suggested that the word was trending because of the company’s new Kim Kardashian inspired dress.

In its defense, the company explained it was a UK based business that implied it didn't keep current with U.S. media based stories. The tweet remained up for an hour and was re-tweeted numerous times. A boycott of the company was launched shortly thereafter.

CelebBoutique is an online fashion store that specializes in celebrity inspired fashion and it regularly keeps up to date with celebrity news but the company apparently hasn’t been so concerned with other kinds of news events.


2)  Kenneth Cole Productions – Egypt Tweet
In 2011, the fashion house Kenneth Cole Productions got caught up in an ill conceived attempt to promote its fashion line during Egyptian protests. The company made light of the demonstrations by suggesting that protesters were celebrating Cole’s new fashion collection for spring.

The company later apologized for the tweet, claiming that they weren’t making light of the serious events in Egypt. However, it still took several hours for the original tweet to be removed and an apology to be made.

In 2011, the fashion house Kenneth Cole Productions got caught up in an ill conceived attempt to promote its fashion line during Egyptian protests.


1)  Kenneth Cole Productions – 9/11 Tweet
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Kenneth Cole Productions made light of the horrific event. The company reminded people that under the circumstances it wasn’t only important for people to be conscious of what they chose to wear, but to also “be aware” in general. In response to the fashion house’s various tweets, parodies have appeared on Twitter that highlight and mock the absurdity as well as insensitivity of the fashion designer along with his employees.

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Kenneth Cole Productions made light of the horrific event.


Conclusion
Social media is a powerful tool both on a personal and commercial level but it's just as unpredictable as it is far reaching. Tweets and Facebook comments are so notably short as well as succinct that companies can say a lot without meaning to.


 

 

 

 

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