Social media muck-ups: just don’t press ‘send’
Social media’s brilliant. It’s spontaneous, it’s all but real time, and it’s difficult to retract when something’s out there. This isn’t, though, going to be a list of people who’ve had embarrassing pictures taken and put on Facebook, there are too many of those. This is my idea of the top 5 serious errors on social media, which could have been avoided.
5. The “hijack a tragedy” group.
It’s not so long since the Arab Spring caused civil unrest in Egypt. It also led American designer Kenneth Cole to Tweet ““Millions are in uproar in #Cairo, Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”. He apologised within an hour but many, quite understandably, found this to be in bad taste. The only real lesson is: if you have to ask “should I be saying this”, the answer is probably “no”. Stuff that is funny and irreverent in your mind may not appear so hilarious in front of a multicultural, multinational audience!
4. The “Leave it to the office junior” tendency.
British furniture company Habitat is no longer a major player, having been sold into receivership and reduced to a couple of stores. When it was larger, however, it was the early-mid 2000s and human rights abuses were being alleged in Iran. Twitter emerged and started using hashtags – so someone in Habitat started putting them into marketing notices about selling sofas like this: “Half price furniture now #Iran”. Not great. The lesson here is clearly, don’t leave
everything to someone really junior, and whoever you leave it to, don’t leave them unsupported. Train them.
3. The “snap back at the customer” manoeuvre
As long ago as 2010 Nestle managed to alienate fans on Facebook by falling out publicly with Greenpeace. The reaction when it demanded a parody video be taken down from YouTube and when it tried to enforce its various rights was embarrassing; Greenpeace promptly arrived on the company’s Facebook page and numbered a whole load of grievances, as did a large number of members of the public. A PR problem turned into a disaster overnight.
2. The “Right hand, meet left hand” dilemma.
Late last year Australian airline Qantas offered a prize to people for Tweeting their “dream luxury in-flight experience”. This sounds harmless but the day before the Tweet talks between Qantas and the airline unions broke down so it was Tweeting about luxury flight to people whose planes had been grounded. The lesson is to ensure that all of your business knows what’s going on elsewhere, or suffer the consequences!
1. The “tell everyone you’re doing it and then don’t” brigade.
So an airline in Ireland decided it was going to go onto Twitter. Which was fine until it announced it was going to do it before reserving its own Twitter name. So someone in its marketing department – presumably another office junior – decided it would be funny to set up the Twitter account, use the company’s logo so it looked genuine and then hurl insults at anyone who Tweeted. Whether this was funny or not depended on your culture and of course your sense of humour (I found it hilarious) but a corporate success it was not. The account was removed in less than an hour, but not before the Times newspaper in the UK spotted it and put a mention on its website.