SBN’s five favourite social media fails

7 July 2015

It’s mid-year list time, so we wanted to weigh in with some of the worst social media fails from the past few years. These are some of the cleverest, most hijacked and mostly not well thought out attempts to use social media that caught our eye.

HMV Live Tweeting a mass firing (2013)

British entertainment giant made a dire mistake when they decided to give access to the company Twitter account to a lot of different staff. That doesn’t seem like an issue, until you fire the person (or in HMV’s case the people) that have the twitter password.

Sixty staff were laid off and the entire process happened live on Twitter. Unhappy employees called the layoffs a “mass execution”, publicly airing HMV’s dirty laundry.

Pro tip: minimise the number of people that have access to the company’s Twitter account and make sure you change the password before firing anyone with that information.


McDonald’s’ #McDStories (2012)

#McDStories was created to encourage people to engage with the brand and share their McDonald’s stories as part of their campaign to show where their foods comes from and the people involved – from farm to cashier. You can guess what happened next. The hashtag was hijacked on Twitter and became a hub for vitriolic comments aimed at the company.

Although the hashtag was pulled less than two hours after the promoted tweet arrived on news feeds, it had well and truly taken on a life of its own. 

Pro tip:  When you’re engaging with your audience always have a contingency plan and if you’re a company like McDonald’s – where opinion is divided – be wary of how vocal your opponents can be. 

mcdstories tweet

Smucker’s’ delete Facebook criticism (2014)

Smucker’s is an American food company that caught a lot of flak for curating feedback on its Facebook page. The company were anti-GMO labelling on food and after customers took to Smucker’s’ Facebook page to express their discontent with the company’s stance negative comments started to get deleted.  

The move made headlines across America and in   a statement the Smucker’s’ said they have consistent community guidelines and while they welcome feedback, “We remove posted content – including those related to GMO and other political campaigns – that includes political commentary, deceptive and misleading claims or are simply repeated postings or spam.”

Pro tip: Social media outrages pass as quickly as storms. Apologise, take the time to respond to queries and then sit tight. People will move on.


Tesco Customer Care’s Hit the Hay tweet (2013)

You’ll remember that TESCO hit a bit of controversy when it was discovered that  its burger patties contained horsemeat. If that wasn’t bad enough a scheduled tweet came out a week later saying, “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”.

An apology came out the following day but not before the twittersphere had blown up and had its fun.

Pro tip:  If you’re ever involved in a scandal, check your scheduled tweets.

Tesco - hit the hay

Chevron: We Agree (2010)

Trying to increase positive public perception, Chevron tried to pivot away from public opposition with the splashy “We Agree” campaign. Before the campaign could launch it ended up in the hands of activists who released fake press releases and a website, which were picked up on by media as authentic.

The comedy of errors ran for one very nightmarish day for Chevron.

Pro tip: Brands have come a long way since 2010 but we can still learn from their mistakes.

chevron official     Chevron Spoof

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