Social Media Mistakes – What NOT to Say

This morning I posted an article on mistakes businesses have made by neglecting to make their social media presence social and making their posts much too corporate. I mentioned that many executives get too nervous about taking “risks” and engaging with their consumers online.

Unfortunately, there are times that brands make mistakes. They post without thinking, and usually it’s in conjunction with a news event. So, lets take a look at some of the biggest mistakes made by big brands.

1. KFC

KFC Thailand is the most recent brand to make a big mistake. Last week, in the wake the earthquakes in the East, they posted this on their Facebook page:

“People should hurry home this evening to monitor the earthquake situation and don’t forget to order the KFC menu, which will be delivered direct to your hands.”

Many were offended, and it definitely wasn’t well-thought out before posting it.

2. McDonald’s

McDonald’s not only made a social media blunder, they made an expensive one. McDonald’s purchased the hashtag #McDStories as a Promoted Trend on Twitter. (Promoted Trends require large minimum spends.) McDonald’s was obviously hoping to engage their consumers, and consumers did, but not in a positive way. Hashtags are something people add to their tweets to create lists in a topic. As consumers added the #McDStories hastag to their tweets, anyone who clicked on the Promoted Tweet in the left-hand side of the Twitter homepage was able to see the negative publicity. Below were some of the ways people responded to the #McDStories hashtag:

Not the reception that I think McDonald’s was hoping for!

3. Kenneth Cole

At the peak of last year’s political unrest in Egypt, Kenneth Cole took the “opportunity” to release their new spring line:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at –KC”

4. Skittles and Iced Tea

It seems like news stories are what really get brands into trouble on social media. During the height of a more recent new story, the death of Trayvon Martin, Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea posted status updates on Facebook that were severely in poor taste:

“What would someone need to do to get your last pack of Skittles?” – Skittles

“What would it take for you to give away your last Arizona?” – Arizona Iced Tea

Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea were the items that Trayvon Martin was carrying home the night of his murder.

So, what can we learn from these social media mistakes?

1. If there’s a major news event, don’t use it to market your brand. Chances are, it will give consumers a negative view of your company.

2. Be aware of major news events. Skittles and Arizona might not have been purposely linking their posts to the Trayvon Martin case, but consumers still took notice and it just left many with a sour taste in their mouth.

3. Don’t open your brand up for criticism. McDonald’s would have been much better off using Promoted Tweets in search, which would simply promote tweets McDonald’s was posting in user Twitter search results, not purchasing a hashtag and allowing users to share their negative opinions of the brand.

I want to stress- don’t let these mistakes deter you from embracing social media. Many of these mistakes could have been avoided with proper planning and thinking.

-Bryan Nagy



Photo Courtesy Robyn Lee