What can we learn from other companies social media mistakes?

17 Mar

ImageTaking on social media as a part of a public relations plan can be risky. The Internet is a fast-paced place where anyone can be a publisher and creator of content. This means that companies have become more vulnerable for negative user generated content that can damage their reputation. Social media fails are most likely to go viral and get everyone talking about them.

So how do companies tackle social media fails and what can we learn from their mistakes?

Let’s look at some of the social media mistakes made online in 2012:

Image1.McDonald’s #McDStories

In January 2012, McDonalds hoped to engage their audience by making them share nostalgic stories about Happy Meals with the hashtag #McDStories on Twitter. Instead this turned into a PR nightmare. Their audience started using the hashtag to mention horrible stories about McDonalds as fingernails being found in BigMac’s and consumers being hospitalized with food poisoning.

How did the company respond?

McDonalds answered by pulling the campaign within two hours.

What can we learn?

Even though the idea was well intended, the implementation was rather short sited because the PR team obviously did not think to prepare for a backlash from the audience. What we cannot control how the audience will respond, but companies need to have contingency plans and to have a strategy when problems like this occurs on social media.

Image2.Celeb Boutique’s Aurora tweet

The UK online store celeb boutique made a big twitter mistake in July 2012. On the day of the mass shootings in Aurora Colorado they posted a tweet saying: “#Aurora is trending, clearly about out Kin K inspired #Aurora dressJ”. The company lost a few thousand Twitter followers and got a lot of negative and angry re-tweets.

How did the company respond?

After about an hour, Celeb boutique deleted the tweet and responded: “ We apologise for our misunderstanding about Aurora- CB”. They also wrote that the reason for the misunderstanding was that they were a UK based company and did not know what was going on in the US. However if they were using international trending topics, shouldn’t they have checked out international headlines first?

What can we learn?

A single tweet can quickly spread to others, whether it is good or bad. So before mentioning the trending topics on Twitter, always check international headlines first! To regain likability from the public the company should have had a more detailed apology and not just answered with one short tweet.

What lessons have you learned from these social media mistakes? Do you have any other examples that PR practitioners can learn from?



Images in courtesy of:

Buzzpatrol, Interzione


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