Social Media Fails … Don’t Be A Casualty!

As a Social Media Manager I am an avid follower of social media fails. You know… that moment when a big brand of celebrity just gets it horribly wrong and we stand back cringing but mesmerised at the public horror that ensues.

Big brands get it wrong on social media more often than you would think often due to the wrong person being in control of the accounts but also due to poor marketing strategies and an insensitivity to public feeling. I want to share with you my favourite social media fails of 2013 and offer you some lessons so that you can avoid becoming a casualty!

HMV’s Twitter Gets Hijacked

HMV made the classic mistake of forgetting who has access to its Twitter feed! When it laid off thousands of staff in 2013 it forgot that a lot of them had Twitter passwords.  One of those staff members decided to use the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring and live tweet the whole thing revealing a ton of unwanted info including the fact that the account had originally been set up by an unpaid intern!


Always maintain control of your core social media accounts by keeping a log of current passwords with your CMO and Director. Assign them as silent admins wherever possible and ensure that they have access to the accounts at all times. Oh and don’t upset your staff J

BA Thought Twitter Was A 9-5

When a British Airways Twitter user complained about his lost luggage on Twitter he was told via automated message that the company’s Twitter feed only operated between 9-5. This would be bad enough but when the customer in question decided to promote his complaint so that 76,000 people saw it and BA failed to respond for a further 8 hours it turned BA into a social media joke.


When you are a huge brand like British Airways nothing is ever really 9-5. For a start your customers are all over the world so how would you even define 9-5 in the first place? Twitter activity takes place 24/7 so you need to make sure that your feed is monitored at all times by a human being and not an auto reply service!

Arizona Bakery has a Facebook Meltdown

The owners of Amy’s bakery in Arizona hit the social media news in 2013 for their unbelievable public Facebook page meltdown. After appearing on Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and coming under scrutiny for some dubious practices the owners turned on their social media followers in spectacular style. Writing in caps, swearing, threatening and generally ranting the company incited a huge social media brawl on their Facebook page which left them with more than egg on their face!


Control your temper at all times on social media! By all means respond to clients but do so in a well thought out, polite and rational manner. If you are angry then my best advice is to log out of all your social media accounts and go for a walk with your dog!

Home Depot’s Racist Twitter Post

In November 2013 a cringeworthy image appeared on Home Depot’s Twitter feed which showed two African Americans sitting with someone wearing a gorilla mask. This would have been strange enough if it hadn’t been accompanied by the caption “Which drummer is not like the others?” Understandably Twitter users were disgusted and pelted the company with accusations of racism until they apologised and said they had fired the social media staff member.


Don’t blame your social media staff after the event… make sure you hire the right people in the first place and have an understanding of what they are doing. This shows poor judgement by Home Depot and makes me think they skimped on paying the right person to do the job.

Epicurious Uses Tragedy To Sell Breakfast!

In 2013 food firm Epicurious decided it would be a good idea to use the Boston Bombings hashtags to promote its range of tasty breakfast treats. Shamelessly tweeting posts such as “In honour of Boston and New England may we suggest whole grain cranberry scones” the company whipped up social anger amongst Twitter users who rightly believed that the company were exploiting a tragedy to sell products. In recent days I have noticed similar activities by brands using #MH17 as a reason to talk about a specific product or service simply because the hashtag was trending and getting noticed.


Never ever use a tragedy to sell a product! If you are going to use a hashtag associated with a tragedy make sure its to offer your sincere condolences but never follow up with a sales pitch…. it’s tacky, insensitive and will probably land your brand in a whole world of trouble!

These are just a few of the many social media fails and I am certain we can expect plenty more from our favourite big brands in years to come!  What’s your favourite social media fail? Tweet me and let me know!

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