Halloween is here! And whilst you may view Halloween as being all about trick or treating, witches, pumpkins and so on, here at MadeSimple we have a different take. We think Halloween is the perfect time to look at some of the nightmarish social media mistakes made by large companies, who really should have known better. Read on at your own peril!
Mcdonalds #McDstories doesn’t go to plan
When the fast food giant created the hashtag #McDstories in early 2012, as a way to invite people to share their positive experiences of the chain, it backfired spectacularly. The company’s Twitter stream was swamped with references to obesity, food poisoning and fingernails (we warned you this blog wasn’t for the faint hearted). Unsurprisingly, the hashtag campaign was pulled within 2 hours. It was an embarrassing incident for the company.
HMV’s worker rebellion
With the retail music chain struggling – and many people being made redundant as a result – angry employees commandeered the company’s Twitter account for a brief period. This led to a series of candidly revealing tweets including, “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand #hmvXFactorFiring” Eeekkk.
Kenneth Cole jumps on Egyptian revolution bandwagon
What better way to promote your spring collection than by newsjacking the egyptian revolution right? … Wrong!! The fashion designer’s tweet highlighting the upheaval in Egypt and then promoting his spring collection went down very badly, and is up there as one of the all time greatest social media ‘gaffes’.
Coca-Cola uses outdated maps for Christmas campaign
It’s never a good idea to send a ‘Happy New Year’ message to a country by using an outdated version of their own map. But this is exactly what Coca Cola did at the start of the year with Russia – the map even included the disputed territory of Crimea. This error offended Ukrainians, still angry after the Russian military took over the territory a couple of years earlier. All this led to a trending hashtag of #BanCocaCola spreading across Russia.
Tesco make light of horse meat crisis
Back in 2013 Tesco were facing a PR crisis when traces of horse were found in some of their meat. In the midst of this crisis the company tweeted the following, “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”. Not the wisest thing to say when your company is in the national news for a horsemeat scandal.
Sainsbury’s internal strategy revealed to an angry public
A staff member at Sainsbury’s accidentally revealed to the public a staff challenge to encourage customers to spend 50p more. The details of the company’s internal strategy were placed on a branch window, which was then spotted by a member of the public who shared this blunder on Twitter. Unsurprisingly this spread like wildfire – even making national news headlines. Cue outrage from angry customers and plenty of embarrassment for the company.
Woolworths and… Anzac Day
Anzac Day is Australia and New Zealand’s national day of remembrance for people who have died in wars and conflicts. To commemorate this occasion Woolworths decided to launch their own special website called “Fresh in our memories”. This site allowed people to upload war related photos to the site, which would then be captioned with the Woolworths logo accompanied with the hashtag #FreshInOurMemories. It’s safe to say this did not go down well and the company were understandably panned for being insensitive.
Belvedere create distasteful image
In 2012 luxury vodka brand Belvedere created an ad on their Facebook brand page depicting a woman being groped by a male from behind. Accompanying the picture was this creepy tag line, “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly” Well, the ad certainly did not go down smoothly. Many people felt that this was inadvertently legitimising groping. A huge social media storm ensued.
British gas raises its prices… then does an online Q&A
British Gas decided to conduct a customer Q&A on the same day that they announced that they were raising their prices – the result was one of the most badly timed Q&As in recent memory. In an #AskBG forum on Twitter angry customers hijacked the thread with some hilarious questions such as, “My office has a window where the sun comes in and makes the side of my head really hot. How much do I owe you?”.
There’s no doubt about it, social media can be scary stuff when it’s not handled properly. Whilst it’s a fantastic marketing and sales resource for businesses large and small, it’s always important to be mindful of exactly what you’re saying – otherwise you may do some serious damage to your brand. Scrutinise everything before it goes live, ensuring it can’t be misconstrued. Best of luck… and Happy Halloween.
*This post was published on MadeSimple.com