Social Media Fiascos
Due to the excellent abilities to interact on a personal level, social media has been adopted by many businesses and companies throughout the world. However these campaigns can occasionally backfire. When this occurs the backlash for these companies is both painful and public. Collected beneath are a selection of some of the best worst social media fiascos.
1. Social Media Fiascos – British Gas:
During October of 2013 the company British Gas decided to hold a “tweet-up”. Foolishly the selected day coincided with the day the company announced price rises of 10pc. This combination resulted in a major social media backlash for the company. The campaign which had its own hashtag, #AskBG, was captained by the company’s customer service director, Bert Pijls. The campaign was undermined by tweets, such as “My office has a window where the sun comes in and makes the side of my head really hot. How much do I owe you?” Among others which were more abusive.
2. Social Media Fiascos – McDonald’s Stories:
Back in January 2012 McDonald’s adopted the hashtag #McDStories. The tweet based social media campaign asked the platform’s users to tweet in tales of their positive dining experiences at the franchise. Instead the hashtag was used to joke about obesity and the dubious contents of McDonald’s products. The company was quick to realise the backlash and pulled the campaign in just two hours. Despite this the abandoned hashtag was still being used on the social media platform a week later.
3. Social Media Fiascos – Tesco Tweets:
During the horsemeat scandal which struck the UK during April of 2013, Tesco, the UK’s leading supermarket, failed to update their auto-tweets. Due to this oversight the supermarket posted, “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets.”
Thousands of users complained about the tweet. These complaints resulted in an apology from the official Tesco handle, @UKTesco. The apologetic post read, “I’m terribly sorry. That tweet was scheduled before we knew of the current situation. We’d never intend to make light of it.” The official tweet based apology was accompanied by full page adverts in the UK’s leading newspapers the following day.
4. Social Media Fiascos – JP Morgan:
The US Wall Street Bank JP Morgan created a Twitter scandal in November 2013. The scandal began when the bank invited users to send in questions using the hashtag, #AskJPM. The invitation resulted in a barrage of tweet based abuse, within a matter of just six hours JP Morgan received over 8000 individual responses. These statistics are according to the social media tracking service Topsy. Topsy’s analysis also revealed that two out of every three tweets sent to JP Morgan during this time were negative.
JP Morgan claimed that the idea behind this tweet-up was to provide students with an opportunity to communicate directly with Jimmy Lee. Lee is one of JP Morgan’s leading and most senior bankers who also played a pivotal role as a Key Executive on the Twitter share sale.
The live questions and answers session was scheduled to take place on November 14th, however the company cancelled the session just one day after announcing it via tweet. The tweet read, “Tomorrow’s Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.” Earlier in 2013 the bank received a large amount of public attention due to its $13 billion settling for misselling mortgage-based securities. The bank also received negative public attention in 2013 due to the $6billion London Whale trading loses.
Abusive tweets tweeted at JP Morgan included, “Quick! You’re in a room with no key, a chair, two paperclips and a light bulb. How do you defraud your investors?” Another tweet read, “What’s your favourite type of whale #askJPM.” These tweets were accompanied by much more abusive tweets, some of which read as follows:
- Twitter: Lindsey Sine- But really, we better stop making fun of #askJPM before they find a way to monetize the hilarity and charge us all for our enjoyment at 33% APR.
- Twitter: Layoff List- #askJPM Is it easier to purchase a congressional representative or a senator?
- Twitter: Chris Lee- Why is it when the poor commit crimes we need more cops and mandatory sentences and when the rich commit crimes we need deregulation #askJPM.
5. Social Media Fiascos – British Airways:
Social media has equipped disgruntled consumers with more elaborate and public ways of airing their grievances. This has resulted in the coining of the word “complaintvertising”. Complaintvertising, is where users buy prominent advertising space on either Twitter or Facebook and use it to air their compliant. British Airways fell afoul of complaintvertising earlier in 2013.
The incident occurred when disgruntled Hasan Syed utilised Twitter’s self-service ad platform in order to post a promoted tweet. The tweet read as follows, “Don’t fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.” Syed had flown with the company in business class on a flight with his father to Paris. Unfortunately his father’s luggage was lost by BA and the company failed to respond to his complaint on Twitter.
Following this Syed elected to take measures into his own hands. His campaign incurred a financial cost of over $1000. However his content was viewed by over 50,000 people in New York and the UK where he ran his campaigns.
6. Social Media Fiascos – HMV:
During January of 2013 the music retailer HMV announced that they would be firing members of their live staff. Unfortunately for HMV one of their social media executives got wind of the news and made it public via HMV’s very own proprietary account. The first tweet read, “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!” Other tweets included, “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand.”
HMV showed themselves to be completely inept when their attempts to lock outgoing staff members out of the retailers Twitter account. Once again this was broadcast publically, however this time from the rogue handle, @hmvtweets. The tweet announced, “just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks!) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?”
7. Social Media Fiascos – Burger King Hijacking:
During February of 2013 the popular burger franchise was successfully hacked by unknown web users. After gaining control of the account the hackers promptly changed the account name to McDonalds. In addition the hackers added a bio which read, “Just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped =[ FREEDOM IS FAILURE.”
The takeover was accompanied by a bombardment of fake tweets. These tweets were abusive, racially motivated and made reference to drugs. The plight of Burger King was perhaps made worse by the fact MacDonalds drew attention to it. This was done through a tweet which read, “We empathise with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking.”