Social media blunders can be extremely funny—until your organization is on the wrong end of the joke. In 2014 a large number of brands found themselves in the unenviable position of apologizing for social media gaffes which garnered negative media attention. Here are five of the worst social mistakes of 2014:
- Grounded by an inappropriate image: In April, US Airways responded to a complaint with a perfectly reasonable reply on social media, reassuring the customer that the airline welcomes feedback and would review the issue. Unfortunately, that response was accompanied by a wildly inappropriate, not safe for work image, which forced US Airways to make a humiliating public apology.
- Strike three, you’re out: In baseball, the letter “K” is shorthand for a strikeout. So when New York Mets pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka—whose nickname is Dice-K—started off an exhibition game in March with three strikeouts in a row, it seemed like great fodder for social media. The team whiffed in trying to capitalize on its Twitter account, however, by proclaiming “Dice-KKK” was off to a quick start.
- It’s not delivery… it’s an awful use of a hashtag: Shortly after a video of NFL running back Ray Rice went viral this past September, the hashtag #WhyIStayed gained traction on Twitter as victims of domestic abuse shared their stories. Someone was asleep at the wheel for pizza retailer DiGiorno, however, as the company insensitively tweeted “#WhyIStayed You had had pizza,” from its official account. Needless to say, the backlash was swift and fervent.
- Breaking the laws of social media: In the spring, the NYPD asked NYC residents to submit pictures of themselves with police officers and to take those photos. What seemed like a good way to reach out to the community backfired, however, when the account was bombarded with photos—complete with snarky captions—of officers engaged in physical altercations with citizens. To put it mildly, the campaign did not have the impact the department had hoped.
- Didn’t know the photo: This past July 4, American Apparel tried to join in the spirit of patriotism by posting what someone thought was an image of fireworks to its Tumblr page. But what the retailer actually had published was a photo of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, an explosion that killed all seven of the ship’s crew members. The company issued a public apology and deleted the post, but not before it was hit with a flood of negative press.
So how can you avoid being the next victim of a social media catastrophe? Most, if not all, of these incidents could have been avoided with a little more thought and planning. Many marketers, however, are tied up with so many different duties that social media takes a back seat and posts are often made hastily, which is how these incidents typically occur.
Outsourcing social media management is a great way to make sure your organization is making use of various social sites without placing an added burden on your marketing team that can ultimately lead to costly errors. You can turn over social responsibilities over to a team of experts and rest easy knowing the job will be done right.
After all, no business wants to end up on this list next December.
Known around the office as the unofficial (or official if you ask him) “Content Boost Mayor,” Eric Lebowitz is one of Content Boost’s Digital Content Editors. Before joining the team, Eric worked in development at the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut in Stamford, Connecticut, and “Golf Digest Magazine.” With experience in account management and content creation, Eric has helped dozens of clients bolster their Web traffic and customer acquisition. When he’s not cracking jokes in the cubes, you can find him on the golf course working on his handicap. He’s also a recent newlywed. Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Journalism from Purchase College in Purchase, New York.