When Social Media Marketing Goes Wrong.

With the increased business exposure, elevated traffic volume and provision of marketplace insight, it is no wonder businesses are keen on setting up social media accounts.

Whatever your business entails, sprinkling a little social media fairy dust goes a long way. With multiple social platforms available, being on every one is a dream that many small businesses aim for. But with limited budgets, it is best to focus on where your main customers hang out.

While Facebook is awesome for connecting with customers and engaging them with contests and giveaways, the magic of Twitter is the instantaneous messages can be shared and grouped with hashtags. LinkedIn may be the ‘stuffy big brother’ of social media channels, but it is an excellent resource for creating strategic groups. Google Plus and its’ Circles, HangOuts and the new HelpOuts provide multiple platforms for users to connect with influencers and end users.

On the flip side, unchecked use of social media can have disastrous consequences.

Many companies use programs that send automatic tweets. They queue messages in and let the bot post at intervals, in a bid to have an ‘active’ Twitter feed. Not too shabby a plan, but the problem is pre-scheduled tweets can come across as very inappropriate if it is posted at the wrong time. In the wake of the Aurora shootings in the US last year, the National Rifle Associations’ Twitter feed went ‘Happy Friday, who is going shooting’. Talk about a face-palm.

These gaffes are more common than big brands care to admit. Below are a few more cases of social media marketing gone horribly wrong:


Following the decision to let go of several hundred employees, the brand was shocked to find its actions being broadcast to its 70, 000 Twitter followers. An enraged employee, who happened to be in charge of social media planning was airing their dirty linen for all to see. After a couple of tweets, they gained access to the account and deleted the tweets, but the damage had been done already as the tweets had gone viral. This is a crucial yet common mistake that big companies make. They seem not have firmly grasped the power of social media, even though 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twiter acc.


A case of humour gone wrong was demonstrated by the Evansville Regional Airport in Indiana. They chose to make a somewhat insensitive Facebook update status. To put it nicely, the joke fell flat on its face, but in these days of being politically correct, some people took offence. With the ensuing backlash, one would expect removal of the post and an apology. While it was taken down, it took 24 hours to do so. This makes you wonder if they just posted it and walked away. What happened to monitoring the FB page? Seeing how many likes it gets? Interacting with people that post on the update?


The last example in this list is SUPERVALU on Pinterest. The grocery firm created a Pinterest account and named it SUPERVALU PR. Now, to many people including me, PR stands for Public Relations. And why would I want to follow the PR department of SUPERVALU? I need coupons not lessons in customer care. No, thank you. This narrowing of their potential market scope has led to its low number of followers and general interaction on Pinterest.

Three different examples of big brands failing at the social media game. Whilst HMV made the mistake of having only one person in charge of their online presence. The ideal situation should involve multiple people examining and signing off on the message, before posting.
In the case of Evansville, humour rarely translates well over the Internet, much less juvenile humour. What you may personally giggle about may be off limits to others. Keep your jokes to yourself.

One tip that cuts across all social media marketing is the use of the hashtag. You may think you have come up with a really cool hashtag that describes your product, but take the time to critically examine it. Write it down and have different people look at it.

A marketing agency came up with #SusanAlbumParty, to launch Susan Boyles’ debut album. Look closer and you will spot the rude word. It is a good thing her singing was enough to build her career on, and not the ‘marketing skills’ of the agency.

At Search and More, we help small businesses get found on the Internet.

Using multiple but targeted promotion methods, we help improve the rankings of your websites. Are you in a tizzy about all things social media? Don’t create and implement a strategy that will bring your company the wrong type of attention. Call us now for a consultation.

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