Social media is being increasingly used to help expand the internet presence for companies. Promoting your brand and engaging with consumers has never been easier. Although it can be an extremely useful tool, if you’re not careful and you get it wrong, it can very quickly generate a storm of negative publicity.
Here are some of the dumbest social media blunders ever. Make sure you don’t follow in their footsteps!
- American Apparel: Mistaking national tragedy for fireworks
American Apparel were celebrating July Fourth on their Tumblr account, when they posted a modified picture of the Challenger space shuttle explosion. They mistook the blast for fireworks, including hashtags #smoke and #clouds. They were hit with widespread criticism, forcing the company to issue an apology, stating that the social media manager was born after the disaster and they didn’t recognize the image.
- Delta: Ghanaian Giraffes
Delta were congratulating the American football team on its winning goal against Ghana in the World Cup. They tweeted two images, to represent each country. The Statue of Liberty was used for the U.S. and a giraffe was used for Ghana. The image turned out to be a stock image of a giraffe in Kenya. Giraffes aren’t native to Ghana.
- DiGiorno Pizza: #WhyIStayed
NFL player Ray Rice was suspended for domestic violence and women took to Twitter to discuss and share their stories of abusive relationships, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed. DiGiorno made the bad decision to use the hashtag to help sell their pizza. They received a barrage of complaints, forcing them to send out apologies.
- LG: Making fun of iPhones on an iPhone.
This is definitely one way to undermine your criticism of a product. When people realised Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus could bend, the hashtag #bendgate went viral. LG France decided to jump on the bandwagon, tweeting out “Our smartphones don’t bend, they are naturally curved ;)”. Which was ironically sent from an iPhone.
- Ventra Q&A – Asking for a headache.
Twitter Q&A sessions just ask for a backlash of criticism, and that’s what happened when The Chicago Transit Authority hosted one using the hashtag #AskVentra. Consumers shared disapproving comments, rather than asking questions, seeking legitimate answers. Maybe strengthen your business to consumer relationships before you do a live Twitter Q&A!
- Smucker’s: Deleting Facebook Criticism.
Sometimes you just have to take the rough with the smooth. Criticism is a way for you to understand how you can improve and make your service or product better for the consumer. Deleting it is not a good idea. People took to Smucker’s Facebook page, challenging its political standing, against mandating GMO labels. They duly deleted the posts, which certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
- U.S. Airways Posts Pornographic Tweet
US Airways accidentally responded to complain posted on Twitter with a lewd image of a naked woman with a toy plane. It was discovered and removed, but by that point the damage had already been done and was retweeted hundreds of times. They have opted not to use their account since. Make sure that whoever is running your Twitter account is trustworthy and reliable!
- Victoria’s Secret: Body-Shaming Messages
Victoria’s Secret released its “Perfect Body” ad which featured skinny models and received criticism as the public condemned their promotion. Their body-shaming message inspired the hashtag on Twitter #iamperfect, along with a petition to end the campaign. They responded to the outcry and updated its creatives to “A Body for Every Body”.
- JPMorgan Chase: Inviting public hatred
Another unsuccessful Q&A here, as the company used the hashtag #AskJPM. Chase are one of the biggest U.S. banks to have faced criminal probes related to manipulation of world financial markets. They inevitably faced a huge public backlash when they began tweeting. They swiftly withdrew from the Q&A before going live.
- Gap: Lower Aspirations, and profit
Once again, Twitter was the root of a public backlash. Gap were advertising their campaign, using #DressNormal. Their idea was that the hashtag would appeal to a larger audience, but it backfired, as it had no positive effects on their sales which went down by 4 percent.