If there is one thing we can learn from social media it would be that sometimes it is best to just step away from the keyboard. Big Brands have a large responsibility in making sure their social media accounts stay up to date, stay relevant and respond in appropriate ways. Unfortunately big brands have a way of failing at doing the above.
From angry employees that take over the social media accounts to accidental pictures leaked, there is no way to recover from these fails. Apologizing seems to be the best course of action, even if some of the apologetic companies have lost thousands of followers in one day.
From using the dreaded ‘c’ word when speaking about a nine year old actress to mistakenly identifying an exploding spacecraft to tweeting from the wrong brand; be thankful you weren’t the employees responsible for these big brand fails. Embarrassment, shame and disgust were all felt by these companies. We have rounded up 10 of the most epic social media failures by big brands and we challenge you to keep a straight face while reading these horrific fails.
Sometimes the biggest companies fail in the worst of ways and that is exactly what happened when MasterCard tried to bully journalists into publishing promotional tweets with the hashtag #PricelessSurprises at the Brit Awards. Instead of agreeing the journalists went on to their social media accounts and literally threw MasterCard under the bus; telling the world about the bribery with tweets such as this one; “MasterCard and Brit Awards go Soviet! hacks MUST Mention the sponsors in their reports or no press credentials!.” Things only got worse for MasterCard as this trend continued for the entire day with the hashtag used for derogatory comments against them.
9. Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby is single handedly responsible for this Twitter fail. He decided to post a picture of himself on Twitter asking followers to “meme” him, thinking this was a good idea. Keeping in mind the many allegations against him, it’s not shocking that many people took this as an opportunity to mock Cosby. His followers exploded with tweets such Cosby wearing headphones and saying “Now I can’t hear you say no”. Eventually the meme generator was stopping curse words but the fiasco didn’t die down until the tweet was eventually removed and the meme generator shut down. This man just cannot seem to stay out of trouble.
Guns and kids is not something to be take lightly and unfortunately for the NRA they chose the wrong time to send out this tweet that read “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range”, just a mere two days after a tragic gun range accident in Arizona. A nine year old girl lost control of the Uzi and shot her gun instructor in the head killing him. The tweet linked to a story about new ways children can have fun shooting colorful targets, zombies and more. The tweet was removed an hour later but the damage was done with followers questioning why the NRA would be so stupid to release this story mere days after such a tragedy.
In this case it pays to have an actual person in charge of your social media accounts rather than a robot. It seems that Oreo thought setting up automatic retweets would make their lives a little easier. Instead it turned into a Twitter disaster when they tweeted out to a user with a very offensive name. Followers of Oreo ripped on this ever popular company for allowing this to hit their Twitter feed and we imagine they lost a lot of followers with this one. We expect more from a billion dollar cookie company.
The infamous horsemeat scandal in the UK in 2013 affected the British supermarket chain Tesco in more ways than one. First they were forced to pull burgers off their shelves that were said to have horsemeat in them. Mere days later Tesco sent out this tweet at 11pm to its 47,000 followers; “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more.” Horse lovers were not amused and took to social media to let Tesco know that they were out of line. The next day the tweet was taken down and the company apologized; saying that the message was scheduled weeks before the scandal erupted. The lesson here is to never leave your social media accounts up to a robot.
Brands love to poke fun at each other but problems arise when it backfires and they actually end up making fun of themselves. That is what happened to LG when they tried to make a mockery of the iPhone. After alleged allegations that the iPhone 6 actually bends when it’s put in the pockets of tight pants LG sent out this tweet “Our phones don’t bend, they’re naturally curved :) #bendgate.”. Unfortunately for LG the time stamp on this tweet reads “Sent from Twitter on iPhone”. Yes that is correct LG actually sent this tweet out from an iPhone. We cannot imagine anything quite as embarrassing as trying to put down a company but then realizing you are actually endorsing them.
4. American Apparel
American Apparel probably does a much better job sourcing their information after this Tumblr disaster. They posted a picture of the Challenger spacecraft exploding on America’s birthday complete with the hashtags #smoke and #clouds. It was supposed to be a representation of fireworks; to celebrate July 4th. Instead it was a PR nightmare. After all social media accounts flooded with backlash, American Apparel took the picture down and replaced it with an apology; blaming the fail on a young international blogger that wasn’t aware of what happened in 1986.
3. The Onion
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis seems kind of a c*nt, right? #oscars2013”. There shouldn’t even have to be an explanation on why this is wrong on so many levels. The funny satirical website; The Onion posted this tweet during the Oscars in the year 2013 and it lasted a whole hour on their feed before backlash forced them to pull it off. Let us remind you that Wallis is a nine year old actress that was carrying a puppy dog purse on the red carpet. CEO Steve Hannah put out a public apology letter the next morning to Wallis but the damage was done. No one will forget this Oscar tweet for a long time.
One of the most remembered Twitter fails goes to McDonalds who thought coming up with the hashtag “McDStories” would encourage people to share their heartwarming stories about their experiences. Instead Twitter users turned the hashtag into a “bashtag” and let McDonalds know how they really felt. From stories such as horrible customer service to being sick after eating the food to finding a worm in a fish fillet sandwich; this hashtag certainly got attention. Perhaps just not the kind of attention they were looking for. The hashtag promotion was cut short and only lasted a mere two hours before McDonalds realized it was doing more harm than good.
1. US Airways
One of the worst social media fails comes from the airline giant; US Airways. In response to a customer complaint the airline tweeted that the customer could send their feedback and linked to what they thought was a feedback form. Unfortunately for this airline the link was actually a picture; a very inappropriate picture of a naked woman with a toy airplane inserted into her vagina. That’s correct; this airline tweeted a very inappropriate picture, and left it up for a whole hour. They did apologize and explain how the situation happened but it was far too late. This is one scandal that will be remembered for a very long time.