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Be More...Social: 10 Social Media Fails to Learn From - PPA Today

Be More...Social: 10 Social Media Fails to Learn From

Since you're close to wrapping up your social media experience with our Be More Social series, we wanted to leave you with 10 examples where social media failed. Since the companies below made some pretty terrible missteps that you can avoid, we're turning them into some valuable learning experiences. Let's dive in!

1. Avoid making light of national tragedies. CelebBoutique (an online retailer) saw that #Aurora was trending on July 20, and posted this less than sensitive tweet. According to the company, their PR department didn't read up on why #Aurora was trending. Always do your research! If you're using a hashtag that's trending, but you don't normally associate with (like the one below), make sure you're well aware of what conversation you're getting into. 


2. We can't say it enough - always check if you're utilizing a trending hashtag. Entenmann's Bakery posted this tweet during the Casey Anthony trial. They're tweet was "innocent" enough, but the timing was downright terrible. (Note:  At least they tweeted an apology quickly. If you find yourself in a similar situation, own it. Apologize publicly and quickly, it'll save face in the long run!)

3. Even international brands aren't immune from poor PR. Check out this ill-timed tweet from fashion brand Kenneth Cole. Whether it's home or abroad, it's generally in poor taste to latch on to a trending hashtag associated with war, violence and riots. Even if you think you're clients would get the joke, take the high road.

4. Remember your pre-scheduled posts. Whether you love them or hate them, the NRA's post just hours after the Aurora shooting last year came across as less than ideal. When major events occur, remember to cancel or reschedule any of your posts that are in the hopper. (It also should be noted that in your social media world, try to avoid talking about assignments as "shoots." For example: "I'm going to shoot a newborn today! Can't wait!" It can be misinterpreted and sound just avoid it.)


5. Also remember if you have tweets scheduled as automated responses. Just because someone is tagging you (or your company), it doesn't mean it's always positive. These automated responses went viral for all of the terrible things customers said about American Airlines. That's not how to effectively engage with your customers--not only does it come across as automated, it gets you in sticky situations like this:

6. Never avoid the conversation. Carnival Cruise Lines shut down its social media in the midst of the Costa Cruise disaster. Obviously there are no screen shots for this one. They shut all of their platforms down and what did they learn? Customers expect more engagement in times of crisis - not less! 

Now your business (hopefully) won't have anything go wrong to this level, but it's important if you do get negative feedback on social media to participate in the conversation, not hide (or worse - delete the comments) like the next case:

7. In an effort to wish their customers a Happy New Year, Volkswagen asked their Facebook Fans the following question:  


The response was, well, less than desirable. Instead of responding to the comments, the car company ignored the negativity, and then started to delete the comments. The censorship angered their community to the point that word got to Greenpeace, where it escalated to an international affair. Moral of the story: don't censor your customers. Be the bigger person and respond. 

8. Now, not all responses are appropriate. For example, take Amy's Baking Company. They were featured on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. To say they had some bad press isn't an exaggeration, and the social media backlash was fierce. Amy's took the lowest road and issued this post (it's one of a few of the few we could share). Don't do this. Please. Yelling at your customers will not bring them back. 


9. Remember to sign out of your professional account when you leave the office. This Kitchen Aid tweet was intended to go out from their social media manager's personal account, but alas, it did not. The tweet was quickly removed, but not before a few screen shots went viral. (It's generally a good rule of thumb to never tweet anything from your company account you wouldn't want to talk about on a first date: religion, politics and money.)

10. Last but not least, make sure you trust your social media managers. Ticket broker StubHub ran into this vulgar tweet on a Friday afternoon. It was never clear if the tweet came from an unhappy employee or if they were hacked. If you're outsourcing your social, make sure you trust your employee to represent you in only the best light.


So there are some amazing examples of what to avoid! We hope you got a good laugh at a few of them, along with learning some valuable lessons on real life issues businesses, both large and small, will face (the above examples are courtesy of BuzzFeed, Mashable, Business Insider and Search Engine Journal). Next week we'll wrap up this series with some great options for continuing education in the world of social media!

- Sarah

This is post 6 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:

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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on August 20, 2013 9:13 PM.

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