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The Biggest Social Media Fails Of 2018

27 Nov 2018 9:20 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

We always learn from our mistakes and this time of year is a great time to reflect on and learn from others who missed the mark in social media marketing. From Forbes.com: 

By: Lilach Bullock

I write about digital marketing topics, from content to social.



I write about digital marketing topics, from content to social.

With over a third of the world’s population on social media, it’s only natural that so many brands have joined in, doing their best to stand out in a positive way, reach their audience and engage them with meaningful content.

Only…that isn’t always the case. Every year, brands make huge mistakes on social media, mistakes that either lead to a few chuckles at their expense, considerable consequences and anything in between.

And of course, 2018 was no exception. While last year there we had small social media fails like McDonalds’s tweeting an update before it was actually written… Or bigger fails, like Wendy’s tweeting out an anti-Semitic meme and, of course, the introduction of the word “covfefe” to languages throughout the world, 2018 too saw its fair share of social media fails, both big and small.

In this blog post, I’m going to share some of the biggest social media fails of 2018. Here they are, in no particular order:

Snapchat or “how not all publicity is good publicity”

2018 has been a pretty difficult year for Snapchat.

Starting with Kylie Jenner’s tweet back in February of 2018 asking if “anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” that was estimated to cost Snapchat a staggering $1.3 billion to other celebrities dropping the popular social network, followed by even more regular users leaving the platform.

And not only that but they were also the cause of a pretty huge social media fail that led to them losing £650 million and enraging people all over the world.

It all started with a simple ad of a game: “Would You Rather?”. The purpose was to engage people and make them ask – and answer – impossible questions. However, the questions they chose for the ad left a lot to be desired, making light of domestic abuse by referencing Chris Brown’s conviction for hitting Rihanna back in 2009:

Would You Rather: “Slap Rihanna?” of “Punch Chris Brown?”

This of course led to immediate backlash, the $650 million loss that I previously referenced and, not surprisingly, very bad publicity for Snapchat especially as Rihanna wouldn’t accept Snapchat’s apology.

Clearly, even if the ad was created by a third-party app, that really doesn’t excuse Snapchat in the public eye.

What can you learn from this huge fail?

One of the most popular sayings in marketing and PR is “no publicity is bad publicity”. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule and Snapchat has certainly made that very clear.

Looking back, it’s difficult to understand why they took this very dangerous route, except perhaps to get people talking about. And while they certainly achieved that, it also led to some serious consequences.

So the most important lesson to learn here? Quite simply, don’t be offensive – even if that is your brand, there are always limits to what is acceptable and making jokes about domestic abuse as a brand is definitely up there in the list.

Another important lesson? Check third party content before you let it go live. Anything that is shared on any one of your websites/blogs/social media/etc. should be properly reviewed before being published.

US Air Force or “maybe don’t make jokes about killing people?

The US Air Force Twitter account is the author of one of the worst tweets of 2018. But before I get to that, there’s a bit of a backstory.

Back in spring of 2018, a new viral clip took over the Internet, much like the blue/white dress of 2015 – now entitled simply, The Dress.

The audio clip, posted by a social media influencer, featured a recording of a voice saying “Laurel” – or “Yanny”. By asking the Internet what they thought was actually being said in the clip, it led to an incredible viral sensation that had people fighting over it much like they did back in 2015 with The Dress.

When you get these viral sensations, you can also except brands and organizations to jump in on the trend and try to piggyback off it with the appropriate hashtags.

However, as is the case with the US Air Force, that can definitely backfire. The organization posted an insensitive tweet that was making light of drone attacks and bombing victims by claiming victims would much rather hear Yanny or Laurel rather than their A10 drone.

Not surprisingly, this led to very intensive backlash both on social media and in the press, even though they promptly deleted the tweet and apologized for it.

What can you learn from this fail?

While jumping into pop culture and incorporating these types of elements in your social media updates is a good idea (when done well!), brands need to take care when they make any joke.

And what’s more, brands really need very clear guidelines of what can be and can’t be posted on social media. Take the time to put together guidelines and social media policies and make sure to instruct your social media team on what is acceptable and what isn’t, as well as how they need to conduct themselves online when they have access to any company account.

Better yet, create a system or social media workflow whereby a manager or editor needs to give their approval before any update is published.

Chick-fil-a or “why you should take a minute before responding”

After the previous 2 fails in this list, this one is just a bit of harmless fun; however, it’s still a fail and there’s still plenty to learn from it.

Chick-fil-A, a North American chicken sandwich brand has fans all over the world; but mostly, they’re from North America.

One of their fans from North Pole, Alaska took to Twitter to ask Chick-fil-A if “Yall wanna open a Chick-fil-A in North Pole, Alaska? Like everyone wants one”. To which Chick-fil-A promptly responded:

“Thanks for asking! Although we have no immediate plans of expanding beyond North America at this time, we appreciate your feedback! Thanks for being a fan!”

While it’s easy to understand why the person answering the tweet wouldn’t have heard of the just-over-2000 strong town, it’s a bit more difficult to understand how they wouldn’t know that Alaska is, in fact, a U.S state.

What can you learn from this fail?

While this isn’t as big a fail as, for example, the “Would you rather?” ad, it still teaches us an important lesson: do your research before you respond to a customer on social media. Spend a couple of minutes going through the question or comment to make sure you definitely understand it – and only then respond to it.

Conclusion

2018 has seen some pretty huge social media fails, but if you’re not their author, then you can use it as an opportunity to learn from other people’s (and brands’) mistakes and fails, such as:

To start with, don’t make offensive jokes!

Create clear social media posting guidelines that state very clearly, using examples, what is acceptable and what isn’t on your company social media accounts

Create a social media workflow that requires interns/junior associates/etc. go through an editing process and get approval from their manager before posting an update



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