Full Service Social Media Marketing

21 Ways to Totally Fail at Social Media

Kris Roxas

May 12, 2015

We all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others. Here are some lessons you can learn from.

1. Being “accidentally” racist. Just don’t.

Seriously… I don’t see how the intern in charge of this could see this and not think, “Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t tweet this.”

2. Joking about plane crashes to make your own airline look good.

When lives are involved, probably it’s best just paying your respects.

3. Making fun of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to sell soft drinks.

The Swedish Pepsi team decided to poke fun at rival soccer nation, Portugal. The result was this little voodoo doll getting run over by a train, another photo with hundreds of pins in it, and a very obviously stepped-on Pepsi can on a flattened doll.

Pepsi quickly took it down when Portugal created a justifiably angry Facebook page which gained over 105,000 likes overnight protesting these ads. Moral of the story: national pride is great, but don’t build the biggest building in town by knocking over every other building. Just build the biggest building. ie. Talk about how great your group is, not how much another one stinks.

4. Trying to relate the Boston Marathon tragedy to scones and energy cereal.

I could “almost” understand if this were pre-scheduled, but holy cow was this a blunder. Best advice is stop scheduling event-specific tweets, and definitely avoid (to the best of your ability) any tragic events. Cereal does little or nothing to ease the suffering, no matter how delicious.

5. Retaliating to fair critiques of your video games with immature comments.

This is the tweet that started the debacle. Just a critic stating his personal tastes. But, what it lead to was unexpected…

Toiletbiscuit? Come on. His name is TOTALbiscuit… Not the thing in the bathroom.

The damage: hundreds of thousands of gamers now hate this indie game developer.

6. Creating a hashtag which could VERY easily backfire.

We all love our sports. Some people just love jokes more.

7. Using Twitter for misogynistic inside jokes.

He’s a dating coach. He was literally called, “The Most Hated Man In The World,” and banned from several countries after his videos and tweets went super viral.

8. Riding irrelevant but popular hashtags.

This one isn’t flashy. Just don’t ride hashtags that have nothing to do with your brand. For example, trying to sell clothes using #iPhone isn’t going to sell clothes… Unless they’re iPhone-related clothes. Also, don’t retweet bad things people say about you. That should be a little more obvious.

9. Tweeting from the Red Cross account about #gettngslizzerd.

I get it, I get it. You want a cool, refreshing drink. But tweeting that from the Red Cross account… Instantly fired. No regrets. (99.9% chance they meant to post this to their personal account, not their client, the freakin’ Red Cross. Ouch.)

10. Comparing the USA to Ghana with two “iconic” figures.

Ghana doesn’t have giraffes… *Sigh*. This easily could’ve been Googled. Get your information straight before you post, people!

11. Capitalizing on hurricanes to sell more shirts.

This is surprisingly common. I can’t imagine why. Both Gap and American Apparel had sales to try and sell more after Hurricane Sandy. I just… I don’t know. Don’t. Please.

12. Using protests to sell more shirts.

They rode the edge and fell off miserably. Just like not using hurricanes to sell shirts, don’t use protests and riots to sell shirts. It will definitely not work in your favour.

13. Having controversial exotic hunters as models for your international brand.

We all need hobbies, but posting pictures of yourself with an animal you just shot isn’t gonna win you any mainstream popularity contests. It’s just gonna get you fired.

14. Not being a fan of 60’s music… When you work for MTV.

You’d think, being an MTV representative, he’d have known John Lennon has passed away a long time ago. That’s awkward.

15. Sneaking in an commercial hashtag when sending your thoughts and prayers.


16. Not doing your research when there’s a hashtag trending.

They later apologized. People were still upset. They said they should’ve done more research. (If you don’t know, the Aurora, Colorado shootings happened, tragically killing 12 people and injuring 70 more).

17. Legal proceedings don’t typically sell tasty treats...

Entenmanns proved this first-hand.

18. Automatic replies. Enough said.

It can work in specific situations like thanking people for a retweet, but to every single time your Twitter handle is mentioned… No bueno. Otherwise people just go NUTS.

19. Swearing and making fun of people.

… Come on, Chrysler. Watch the language!

20. Getting tricked into retweeting the picture of two serial killers (ouch).

To be fair, how likely is it that Donald Trump would’ve known that? He was just trying to be nice.

21. And last, but certainly not least - stop trading popularity for kindness.

Just send your condolences. Don’t ask for likes. Give compassion instead of hunting for gratification.

We appreciate the generous contribution, but if you have the capacity and willingness to help, you shouldn’t need to have our permission (or need our encouragement) to give to others.

In a perfect world, cancer wouldn’t exist. Neither would hunger. Nor death.

But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world with an inherent amount of sadness and struggle. And it’s terrifying and obviously very, very stressful.

Trading health and emotional comfort for dollars and attention is a good idea… in theory (maybe). But in practice, the people going through those tragedies feel belittled, and the people seeing this happen feel compassion and empathy without any vested financial interest.

In the end, we're all human. We make mistakes. We want to feel acknowledged, understood and supported.

Social is one way to do that. And to build a business. But do it because you genuinely want to help, and nothing else.

#socialmedia #marketing #twitter

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