This entire month we’ve talked about all the things that can go wrong in your social media posting. Today we will be sharing some actual examples of times when people went over the line and got it very wrong. Because of copyright, we won’t be sharing pictures of these incidents but I’m sure with a little clever Googling you can find any of them that you’d like to see.
That’s Not Fireworks
This was an honest mistake but a bad one nonetheless. Someone at American Apparel, that probably wasn’t even alive when this tragedy occurred, accidentally used an image of the Challenger explosion for a 4th of July post thinking it was fireworks. This is one of the reasons you never want to just Google an image and use it without knowing the context. This didn’t go well for them at all.
There was a company pitching to FedEx, which is headquartered in Memphis, TN. When the company came to Memphis to do their pitch, the Vice President of that company tweeted:
True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here!”
The CEO of FedEx saw it and immediately shut the whole deal down. You have to assume that whatever you’re tweeting, people are going to see it. It costs this company a tremendous client.
The Absolute Worst
This next one is one of the worst ever. This teacher posted a tweet before getting on a plane to go to Africa that read:
Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!
This may be the most racist post ever. She got on the plane and turned her phone off. By the time she arrived at her location, it was trending globally. She had lost her job. What a horrible, insensitive thing to put out there and the world reacted just like you think they would. This one is so incredibly offensive it actually made us cringe to include it on the list.
A Kitchen Nightmare
Amy’s Baking Company didn’t take kindly to Gordon Ramsay telling them there were some problems with their business. They basically had a meltdown on social media. It played out for the world to see. They cussed him and his crew. Then when people went online to complain about the company or complained in person at the restaurant, they cussed them too. They argued with each and every person who left a comment. It showed incredibly poor taste and low class.
Capitalizing on Tragedy
You should never profit from a national tragedy. When a tornado, a terrorist attack, a flood, or something like this happens the only reason you want to post about it is if you’re donating money, if it affected you personally, if you allow your location to be used as a place to drop off donations, or if your location is being used as a shelter. You would never use it for a coupon or a promotion.
After the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Epicurious thought that would be a good time to promote breakfast cereal. It’s one of the weirdest promotions we’ve ever seen. They tweeted:
Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today
with a link to a coupon.
Ledo Pizza felt the need to honor 9/11 with a pizza designed to look like an American flag. It was horrifying. So tacky. They used the hashtag #neverforget next to this tacky picture. It was in such poor taste.
The UPS Store offended parents everywhere when they tweeted:
If your child addresses a letter to the North Pole, you can leave it with us. We do shredding.
It’s not quite as bad as some of the others but still a bit insensitive. It’s never a good idea to make fun of people’s children.
This one is pretty funny. Delta was congratulating the USA during the Olympics and they used pictures to signify the USA (Statue of Liberty) and Ghana (a Giraffe). Unfortunately for them, giraffes don’t live in Ghana. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be so bad to mess up your geography a bit but when you’re an airline known for flying all over the world it’s a bit more embarrassing.
Hijacking a Hashtag
One of the worst offenders on this list is DiGiorno Pizza. When the #WhyIStayed hashtag began trending to raise awareness about domestic abuse, a tone-deaf DiGiorno tweeted:
#WhyIStayed You had pizza.
Imagine how offensive this is to a domestic violence survivor. Ignorance is no excuse here. You have the responsibility to check all of your hashtags before you use them. Hashtag research is part of social media management.
Social U Stories
While we’ve never had anything of that magnitude, we’ve had a few of our own horror stories around here so, in transparency, we wanted to share a few of our own media mishaps.
We were doing a presentation in a movie theater not long ago. One of the custom graphics in our presentation had a computer with a steaming cup of coffee next to it. You probably wouldn’t have noticed this on a computer screen or a tv, but on this giant movie screen, it became obvious the coffee cup on this graphic definitely had body parts on it. Oops. Luckily for us, nobody noticed. We noticed, of course, but no one else did.
A Zero Makes All the Difference
We once posted a special online for $18 but it was really $180. The error wasn’t caught until there was a sale made. Still, that wasn’t too bad. We’ve been doing this for years and these are our worst errors ever and we had to really think hard to come up with any. This was one of the worst we’ve ever done so I take that as a win.
One of our more recent “horror stories” resulted in a member of our team accidentally buying $190 worth of stock photos. What were they of? Pecans, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and more. While searching for the perfect photo she inadvertently bought a ton of images. It can happen to the best of us.
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is that mistakes can happen to anyone. No one is immune to the occasional mess up. However, there is never an excuse to be offensive. Do your research and represent your company in a way that respects your business and others.