Epic Social Media Fails of Huge Brands – How to Avoid Mistakes and Improve Reputation

Epic Social Media Fails of Huge Brands - How to Avoid Mistakes and Clear Spoiled Reputation

Mistakes are inevitable, and this is often the case for the marketing world.  There are times when marketing campaigns don’t work at all and businesses suffer from intense social media fails and other technical pitfalls.  In spite of social media being an excellent channel for brands to target their followers, some companies have made big mistakes in the past, and their social media marketing errors had blown up in their faces.

Without question there have been cases of utter disaster of various brands’ marketing campaigns that turned out terribly.  In this article, you will find a comprehensive depiction of eight such examples of times when businesses had horrible social media fails and how you can avoid such scenarios in the future.

Let’s check out those Popular Corporate Social Media Fails:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="613"]McDonald's Logo SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 03, 2010: Here, the McDonald's logo is seen outside a McDonald's restaurant. San Francisco became the first city in the nation to pass a law to control giving away free toys with unhealthy meals for children. The law requires that any restaurant kid's meals meet nutritional standards before they can be sold with toys. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)[/caption]
  • McDonald’s Embarrassment on Twitter

Companies have made many social media blunders in the past and this was one of the major instances among them.  It was a cool concept by McDonald's to invite customers to share their stories of why they loved their restaurant with the hashtag #McDStories.  However, it turned out to be an unfortunate social media fail soon after when people hijacked that hashtag and started using it to complain about McDonald’s food.  People inundated McDonald's with criticism instead of appreciating their experiences with this hashtag.

  • Amazon Echo’s Difficulty

Who isn't familiar with the new Amazon Echo?

It is a cylindrical version of Siri, which can answer your queries, turn on the music for you and even control other devices.  Even though the product is pricey, a nearly 4 minute long YouTube ad was released demonstrating it's functionality, where the device appeared as weird and creepy.  It was a disastrous social media mistake.

A couple hours later, Amazon released a funny parody ad which racked up almost 3 million views in just a few hours.  Amazon Echo quickly took the back seat, and this unflattering Amazon Echo parody attracted all the attention.

Have a look: http://youtu.be/KkOCeAtKHIc

  • Huggies’ Sexist Approach

Huggies, which is all about selling diapers, wanted to attract more parents to their brand.  This social media fail implied some parents were not up to the task of changing diapers.  Huggies made this error with this sexist ad campaign, which implied some distinction in who changes diapers; “Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test’’.  When it comes to huge social media mistakes by companies, this can be considered as one of the biggest.

  • Pretending to Shoot a Teenage Girl

A mattress company in India wanted to indicate how bouncy and soft their product was.  To demonstrate this, they used a graphic to show how a teenage girl, Malala Yousafzi, was shot by the Taliban.

The act occurred when she was attempting to pursue an education.  The ad was portrayed in such a way that she bounced back from her terrible fate on a mattress.  It was one of the most disturbing social media fails in history.  The agency behind the company quickly apologized and the advertisement was pulled.

  • Oregon Radio Station Racist Billboard

This racist social media fail could be considered as a big social media blunder that should have been easy to avoid.  A billboard for a radio station in Oregon said, ‘We love you long time’, and was placed in the Chinatown area in Portland, facing immediate outrage.  The ad campaign was not only distasteful, it was in very poor taste and an embarrassing example of advertising.

  • GM Suicidal Robot

Addressing suicide in a marketing campaign is always a tough task and would be easier to simply avoid. However, General Motors took a different approach and attempted to address it.  In an ad they displayed at the Super Bowl, a despondent robot line worker killed itself after making a mistake on the job.  This advertisement, obviously, was not well received.

  • Kmart Made Its Employees Work on a Holiday

The public finding out about mistreatment of employees is one of the most risky social media fails that the marketing world can see.  After such a poor decision, Kmart should have ignored the complaints rather than try to defend themselves.  But, Kmart decided to respond to the outrage on Twitter in an attempt to reply to people complaining about the company putting profits above its employees, who would have to work rather than spend the holidays with loved ones.

  • Levi’s Claim on Hotness

There was an awesome message by this clothing company that, regardless of what your size is, you can join the Levi brand.  Although this message brought an all-inclusive go-girl vibe with this advertisement, the picture that Levi put out was a complete failure.

The women who had been portrayed in the picture were all very thin, not considerate of the target audience of the marketing campaign.  When it comes to major social media fails by international companies, this can be considered one of the more significant examples.

These examples and more are great instances of major social media mistakes by corporations.

It is important to keep in mind the errors made in the past to avoid perpetuating such unwanted blunders for brands in the future.

However, if you’ve already committed a social media PR disaster or any other mistake, have a look at how you may be able to save your brand’s reputation.

How to Avoid Serious Social Media Fails

You definitely don’t want to wake up to your brand being sucked into a social media firestorm.  However in most cases, it happens due to various external forces; like hacking, oversight etc.

Whether it is a social media PR disaster or any other devastating failure on social media platforms that your brand is connected with, make sure that you are taking the following steps:

Curate a Perfect Social Media Policy

In the past, the concept of crafting a social media policy was not at all a lucrative idea.  It seemed to be totally ridiculous to brands.  However, after the aforementioned social media PR disasters and other mistakes happened, having written rules for various social media activity has become a must.

It is now the norm for companies and you should follow this philosophy for your brand.  Undoubtedly, this concept can prevent various social media mistakes from occurring.

Here’s the social media guideline for Coca Cola:

The Coca Cola Company Social Media Guidelines

Explore Hashtags Extensively

There have been many unfortunate social media strategies for a number of companies that used hashtags incorrectly.  For example, take a look at the following tweet by Entenmann:

Entenmann's Tweet

Doesn’t #notguilty look weird and out of place here?

This tweet would have been completely fine without that.  The company used it because #notguilty was trending then because the  murder trial of Casey Anthony just concluded and featured a "not guilty" verdict.

This was not relevant to their brand.  Therefore, it is important to research hashtags sensibly before finally using them.  There can be many hashtags which may seem innocent to you, but they might be trending for an entirely negative reason.  You should always avoid them and rather opt for meaningful ones.

Understand Your Audience

Social media marketing is all about how you entice your customers and reach out to the maximum number of people.  As a huge number of buyers are active on various social media platforms, you can target the right audience through them.  All you need to do is publish engaging posts people would love.

For instance, you shouldn’t end up doing something like Levi; missing the target audience.  Make sure that you are posting considerately about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to avoid drastic social media PR disasters.

Opt For a Social Media Management Tool

If it is one of your utmost priorities to keep social media logins of your brand safe, don’t forget to use a premium social media marketing tool.  With that, you can allow social media marketing professionals who are working in your company to get access to all accounts.  Also, it is possible to ensure that you are having control over who can publish on which profiles.  It will let you maintain a well-planned social media strategy for your brand which is devoid of unnecessary loopholes.

How to recover from social media fails and enhance brand awareness?

Despite a lot of efforts by your brand to avoid social media downfalls, it might still happen.  However, your responding approach to a social media failure can determine the level of impact that it can cause to your brand. This is the time you need to be smart and tactful to save your brand’s reputation.

Try these ideas that will definitely help.

Act Fast

Your brand should be quick to address any social media mistake before there is no longer a means of rectifying it.  For example, everything evolves at a faster pace on Twitter, so users expect that you will reply immediately, especially if you have made a mistake.

So don’t wait around.  It will suggest either you aren’t aware of what has happened or you just don’t care.  In both cases, your brand will end up with a very bad impression for your consumers.

Fix the Mistake

Whatever mistake you might have made, fix it right away.  In the event any of your official social media accounts get hacked, recover it as soon as possible and take necessary steps.  You might even sometimes forget to use a necessary hashtag on a tweet, delete it whenever you realize that.  It should be your foremost step to ensure that such a tweet is not in your timeline anymore.

Be Sporty and Apologize

One of the integral keys of successful social media marketing is being transparent and sincere.  You shouldn’t act as if a social media mistake has not happened.  Of course, as discussed above, you must delete an erroneous post but make sure that you accept what has happened and inform your followers about the right steps that you are taking to correct your mistake.

Don’t be Overprotective

If you had a social media fail recently, it is likely that you are going to receive backlash.  In such a scenario, don’t let your pride play a major role here and become defensive.  It is just like ignoring trolls on social media.  Your brand must learn to respond correctly to relevant messages while being courteous and respectful.  Also, keep in mind that there’s no need for you to reply to each individual tweet.

Every Brand Has Flaws

Last but not least, it is important for your brand to realize that no brand is perfect.  There’s always a chance that things can go absolutely wrong at any time.  When it comes to social media, the story is the same.  However, no company wants to be popular for its social mistakes.  So, learn from the aforementioned examples and take these steps to handle your brand’s social media marketing in the best way possible.

Get started on improving your brand's reputation soon, and you'll see awesome results in no time!

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