Social Media Fails — Twitter

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Social media is a great way to interact with consumers and spread brand awareness. That’s if it’s used correctly, of course. The wrong strategy can have a devastating impact on business, so it’s important to ensure everything you post is not only compliant and tasteful but appropriate too.

With many brands slipping up on social media, it’s time to look at what went wrong and avoid some of the biggest social media fails. In this episode we’re looking at Twitter and the brands who failed hard last year.

Social Flops and What You Can Learn From Them

1. US Air Force Laurel/Yanny Backfire

Back in the spring, there was a debate circulating social channels. Users couldn’t decide if an audio clip was saying the world ‘Laurel’ or ‘Yanny’ and while there was plenty of Twitter banter around this topic, the US Air Force took things to a whole different level, tweeting:

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This included a link to an Air Force Times story about heavy air strikes in the Afghan city of Farah.

Being inappropriate, the Tweet was met with severe backfire both from Twitter users and the press. It was subsequently removed from the site accompanied by an apology.

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Takeaway 1: Don’t jump on bad news or internet trends to promote your brand. It can come across extremely distasteful.

Takeaway 2: If you make an error, respond quickly to minimise damage. Issue an apology when necessary.

Takeaway 3: Have an editorial or compliance process in place for all social tweets to ensure they get the green light.

2. Chick-fil-A Geographical Error

To set yourself apart from competitors it’s important to come across as knowledgeable; a go-to source of information in your field if you like. With this in mind, you must fact-check all tweets to ensure you don’t make a blindingly obvious error that could irritate your audience. One small slip up can lead to mockery or a lack of trust for your brand as Chick-fil-A, a North American sandwich company, found out the hard way when they failed to acknowledge that Alaska was indeed a North American state.

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This led to an influx of angry followers criticising Chick-fil-A’s lack of geographical knowledge!

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Takeaway 1: Don’t rush when replying to tweets. Take your time and formulate a reply that won’t land you in hot water. Do extra research if necessary.

Takeaway 2: While social interaction between brand and consumer is encouraged, generic, lazy replies can do more harm than good. Social media is a skill which is why it’s best to leave engagement to someone fully-trained to do the job to a high standard.

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3. Lockheed Martin Shutdown on #WorldPhotoDay

Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest arms manufacturer and a top American defence contractor. It’s therefore perhaps no surprise that an over cheery tweet on #WorldPhotoDay was met with ridicule and anger. Pictures were circulated of the Yemen school bus strike which was caused by a bomb made by Lockheed Martin and sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The original Tweet below was promptly deleted.

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This came after a series of justifiably negative responses:

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Takeaway 1: Don’t use hashtags without thought and consideration. Not every hashtag will be suitable for your brand and could again damage your reputation. Gauge your brand’s popularity too. Unpopular or controversial brands like SeaWorld, McDonalds and United Airlines are just a few that have come unstuck in the hashtag wars.

Takeaway 2: Avoid turning trending tweets or occasions into publicity stunts. This looks incredibly tacky and while you might want to jump on the hashtag bandwagon of particular trends, it must be done tastefully. If you’re a book retailer for instance, World Book Day is the perfect time for you to get involved.

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