Top 5 Social Media Fails of 2012

Brands love social media for marketing and business development because it allows them to expose themselves to global audiences and hopefully, have a promotion go viral. Most of the below brands are rock stars when it comes to social media marketing, but we all make mistakes here and there! Here are the top 5 social media fails of 2012.

American Apparel Hurricane Sandy Promotion

American Apparel decided to jump on the back of Hurricane Sandy to offer a special promotion of 20% off for shoppers that lived in affected states. The kicker here is that they added the wording, “In case you’re bored during the storm.” Thousands of people took to Facebook and Twitter to voice their criticism over the tacky ad.

Lesson: No matter how tempting, don’t create promotions based on national disasters.

social media failsLondon Olympics 2012 Banned Brands

The London Olympic 2012 were an exciting time for fans all over the world. Unfortunately, the Olympics committed a huge social media #fail by not allowing athletes to mention brands via social media that weren’t official sponsors. Furthermore, brands that were not official sponsors were not allowed to create an association with the Olympics.

Lesson: Social media is all about engagement and freedom of speech. It’s hard to harness what’s trending across the globe at all times.

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McDonald’s #McDStories

McDonald’s is usually spot on when it comes to promotions and marketing, however, this wasn’t the case with McDonald’s #McDStories and #meetthefarmers. McDonald’s asked their fans to post their fond Happy Meal stories via social media. This backfired in a huge way as users decided to share horror stories instead of happy memories. In theory, McDonald’s paid to promote a trend that resulted in a ton of bad publicity. McDonald’s did admit that his marketing ploy did not go as planned.

Lesson: Remember, social media can’t be controlled in any fashion. It’s important to have a backup plan if the worst should occur.

NRA Pro Gun Tweet during Aurora Shooting

The National Rifle Association (NRA) posted a tweet in favor of guns as the mass shooting event was unfolding in Aurora, Colorado. In defense of the NRA, the tweet was scheduled using Hootsuite but it still came across as insensitive during that horrific event.

Lesson: Brands must use caution when scheduling tweets and social media posts. When tragic events or national disasters occur, look through your scheduled tweets so you don’t look like a jerk. You should also consider stopping your scheduled tweets during the day of a traumatic, global event.

Microsoft gets Political

Back in September, a Microsoft employee who managed the Microsoft Twitter account posted a negative tweet about conservative Anne Coulter. He or she had made the mistake of tweeting from their company account instead of their personal account. The Microsoft account had replied to a tweet from a former US labor secretary with this, “@RBReich your granddaughter’s level of discourse and policy > those of Ann Coulter.”

Lesson: If you’re a social media community manager and you manage multiple social media accounts, be very diligent about posting your personal social media posts from your personal accounts.

We hope you enjoyed our post on the top 5 social media fails of 2012. Do you have any to share? Please feel free to post them in the comments below.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 1

  • Hi Samantha,
    Really well put together post. However, there’s actually a reason the Olympics ban brands that’s based more on tradition than on business. Historically, the Olympics are for the purity of sport, so athletes aren’t supposed to profit from their competitions. I wouldn’t say it was a failure of restriction, more so a failure of communication to express why athletes aren’t allowed to mention brands. If you think about it, athletes competing just for love of sport over sponsorship makes for a great story. Even then, though, marketers were able to be creative. PUMA, for example, capitalized on Usain Bolt’s trademark pose to highlight their star sponsored athlete’s popularity by showcasing people around the world striking the pose. What may have arguably been a much bigger fail was Chick-Fil-A’s fake Facebook account fiasco compounding an already ripe PR nightmare.

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