Big Brands And Social Media Fails

There are a lot of different forums these days that a brand is (and if they aren’t probably should be) involved in – from Facebook to Twitter, email campaigns, the company website and blog, as well as all of the traditional outlets and marketing vehicles.

It’s a lot to keep track of – but the great thing is that if you’re worried about something happening and wondering how to rectify it, someone has probably done it before and can give you a good example of what to do or what not to do.

No guarantees that you won’t make mistakes on your path to become the next trailblazer in whatever-your-industry-is, but here are a few glaring mistakes and missteps that have been made in the past to look out for.

Social Media Fails

With everyone plugged in 24/7 these days – and the need for a community and brand advocate on most internet marketing channels, it’s inevitable that mistakes are going to happen some way or another.

Why is That #Trending?

One of the most dangerous things to do something that has happened to major brands on a number of occasions – not understanding the context of a trending tweet. It’s something that has been done by a number of different major brands at some rather…inopportune times.

A few of the most notable include:

Entemanns tweeted “Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!”, where the #notguilty hashtag was trending because of the Casey Anthony verdict that had just been released at the time. The offending tweet was deleted and apologies were sent out.

Kenneth Cole decided to ride on the coat-tails of the Arab Spring by tweeting “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” I don’t know offhand if an apology was ever offered up, but many think that this move was made deliberately as the company has been known to attract controversy, in some form or another.

Wait, That’s Not You?

This faux pas is something that is exemplified by the Netfix-Quickster debacle. First off, it was a bad move on the part of Netfix to increase costs and not ask consumers – plus, they decided to split their services?

But here comes the social media fail – nobody actually made sure that Netflix owned the Twitter handle of Quickster before actually making public this split of services. And it was apparently owned by a guy who wasn’t really a fan of Netflix to begin with…so that was a mistake. When you find out that your Twitter handle is now wanted by a movie-rental giant, you aren’t going to give it up for cheap, or out of the goodness of your heart.

The lesson here – before you make public that you’re changing your name or that you’re starting a new service, make sure that you know what all your social media accounts are going to be (and that they are available). Most people have the common sense these days to make sure that the URL that they want is available, but social (mainly Twitter, as you can define your own Facebook URL and Google+ can’t be personalized yet) isn’t quite on everyone’s radar yet.

And if your exact brand name isn’t available, you can create an alternate and verify the account, so that way the rouge tweeter with your brand name won’t (typically) be given as much klout as you. Or they shouldn’t.

Uhm…I Posted To The Wrong Account?!

This happens most often with your brand advocates – those people that you’ve given the reins of your social media presence. Most likely they’re hooked up to both accounts all the time – and sometimes they’re tweeting at 2AM and..oops…they post something vulgar or something stupid or offensive to the wrong account. What to do?

Probably the worst thing to do is to ignore it – in the same way that your #hashtag boo-boo is not something to ignore. If you want a great example of how to properly handle this, check out how the Red Cross handled #gettingslizzard! They deflected the situation with humor, and ended up starting an impromptu fundraiser.

Original tweet…

…and the follow-up.

These are just a few of the ways that brands can screw up big with their online branding and PR – but the good thing is, you can learn from their mistakes! Take these oopsies into account when you manage your own brand online, and just use plain ol’ common sense.

Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer who thinks that while social media and online branding is great, it needs to be consistent, and one should never underestimate the power of logo mats at the doorstep of any business.

Image credit: Sebastian GeithnerRob Boudon

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