A wise man learns from the mistakes of others: Avoid social media campaign disasters...

02 June 2017

Avoid social media campaign disasters

If the internet has taught us anything, it’s taught us just how easy it is to fail. Twitter has had more than its share, probably because the fact that it is such a fast-moving network means that it’s only too easy for a mistake to go viral before a social media team has managed to get its act together.

Here's some of the “best”, or at least most (in)famous Twitter fails, and the lessons to be learned from them.

Walkers #walkerswave

Last week, Walkers created a social media campaign that allowed users to upload a picture and have it automatically inserted into a pre-recorded video featuring their brand ambassador, Gary Lineker. Practical jokers, however, soon began to send in photos of all kinds of people from serial killer Harold Shipman, to Kerry Katona, to Jeremy Corbyn.

These tweets promptly started trending on Twitter and rather overshadowed the main campaign, which Walkers promptly cancelled.

Lesson to take away – photo competitions can be great but if you’re going to let photos be published on your account, you need to moderate them first.

McDonald’s #McDStories

McDonalds wanted to use the hashtag as a way to highlight great experiences people had enjoyed thanks to McDonalds. In actual fact, disgruntled customers used the hashtag to highlight their problems.

Lesson to take away – 1. Once they’re release into the wild, hashtags belong to the world rather than to their creator. 2. McDonalds could actually have had at least a chance of turned this around if they’d got on to the negative feedback, engaged with customers and tried to do something to make the situation better.

Too many to mention – using hashtags at the wrong time

If we were to create a list of companies that had just used the wrong hashtag at the wrong time or in the wrong way, we’d be here a very long time. Still, let’s have a few:

  • Qantas airlines used #QantasLuxury the day after all flights were grounded due to a dispute between employees and managers.
  • Kenneth Cole used #Cairo in a publicity tweet for his spring collection when the Arab Spring was in full progress and people were using #Cairo to keep track of events.
  • DiGiorno used #WhyIStayed to promote its pizza when it was actually meant to highlight the issues surrounding domestic violence.

Lessons to take away – 1. before you use a hashtag, make sure you know its context and 2. be ready to pull a hashtag if circumstances make it inappropriate.

Delta Air Lines – fails at travel and spelling

Back in 2014, Delta Air Lines sent a tweet to congratulate the U.S. soccer team for its win over Ghana. It used a picture of the Statue of Liberty to represent the U.S.A and a giraffe to represent Ghana. The problem, as was quickly pointed out, is that Ghana does not actually have any wild giraffes. Delta apologised promptly, but unfortunately, it referred to its “precious” tweet rather than its “previous” tweet. Admittedly, this was clearly a minor typo, but it was still noted with amusement.

Lesson to take away – check your facts before sending any tweet and also check your spelling!