2013 has seen quite a few social media blunders. And while they might seem funny to outsiders, as a business, getting caught up in a social media blunder can be devastating.
So for this Friday, here are a few blunders we’ve picked out from this year, and the lessons you can learn from them:
- The blunder: Kenneth Cole’s Syria-related tweet.
In years past, we’ve seen companies receive backlash from tweeting ads with references to serious or tragic events, like we saw with Gap and American Apparel during Hurricane Sandy. The same thing happened when fashion designer Kenneth Cole tweeted, “‘Boots on the ground’ or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear,” a reference to the possibility of American intervention in the Syrian Conflict. Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the brand’s first tweet of the sort (see here and here).
The lesson: Using controversial topics probably isn’t the best way to market your brand. Taking a serious or tragic event as an opportunity to make a sales pitch can make you come off as insensitive, and may result in the loss of a lot of customers and potential employees.
- The blunder: Amy’s Baking Company’s Facebook meltdown.
Facebook is a great way to connect with customers and potential employees in order to let them know more about the emotional aspects of your company, and about what makes you special. Unfortunately, some companies take the emotional thing too far, as was the case with Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. The restaurant’s owners went on a status tirade when comments came flooding in on their Facebook page – after they were seen on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – with statuses ranging anywhere from threats to pursue legal action to name calling.
The lesson: Alienating your customers by yelling at them and using expletives probably won’t bring them in, and the same goes for potential employees. Negative comments can do a lot to damage your brand, and they make your company look very unprofessional. Avoiding getting too emotionally invested in your company can keep social media blunders like these from happening.
- The blunder: Tesco’s “hit the hay” tweet.
Earlier this year, the British supermarket was thrown into a scandal when it was discovered that some of their products contained horse meat. While the company worked quickly to remove all of the contaminated products off the shelves, they weren’t quick enough to remove this pre-scheduled tweet: “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”.
The lesson: The chance of this happening to your company is rare, but what you can take away from this blunder is that you should always make sure that your branding is consistent on all ends. It also never hurts to review your scheduled posts and make sure that they’re all in line with the image you’re trying to convey.
- The blunder: Pax Dickinson’s personal tweets.
Last month, Pax Dickinson was forced to resign from his position as Chief Technology Officer for Business Insider after Dickinson made several offensive remarks. The tweet that seemed to start it all was this remark on women in tech: “feminism in tech remains the champion topic for my block list. my finger is getting tired.”
The lesson: There is still a debate on what companies can and cannot hold employees accountable for when it comes to their own personal social media accounts. Still, employees should be careful about what they say – if it relates in any way to their company or the industry, it could lead to some trouble.
Social media is an essential element of any recruiting strategy today. From helping interact with customers and job seekers, to spreading your job postings across the web, to screening job seekers, social media can help you get a leg up on the competition when it comes to finding talent.
With that said, the last thing you want to do is get caught up in a social media blunder. Make sure to have very clear social media policies, and always keep an eye on your company’s (and potentially even your employees’) social media. Blunders like these happen more often than you might think, and by staying on top of your social media, you can usually avoid such events.