Schadenfreude is the German word for “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.” There are few situations more ripe for Schadenfreude than social media fails. Tweets can be deleted, but screencaps are forever. We’re looking back at the worst social media fails of 2016, with tips on where they went wrong. We don’t want any of you to end up on 2017’s list.
And don’t forget to join us November 23 for our Social Media Goofs (and How to Avoid Them) BizzyWebinar.
Microsoft Accidentally Creates Racist AI
Microsoft’s idea was simple: a teen chatbot named Tay that would talk to users on Twitter, growing in intelligence with each conversation. Unfortunately, their optimistic hopes came crashing down when within hours Tay became a Hitler-loving white supremacist. Thanks Internet.
Lesson: There’s a fine line between engaging your customers and letting them run wild. Hope for the best, but expect the worst and keep conversations under control.
Mattress Store “Honors” 9/11
Miracle Mattress’ ad for their “twin towers sale” was so bad it forced them to close indefinitely. Turns out, joking about a national tragedy isn’t a smart move.
Lesson: Leave the edgy humor for South Park.
Staffer Tweets on the Wrong Account, Chaos Ensues
After CNN weighed in on Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, many users took to Twitter to give their opinion. One Justice Department staffer chimed in…on their business account instead of their personal. Oops.
Lesson: If you have multiple social media accounts, always make sure you’re logged into the correct account before pushing “send.”
Cheerios Attempts to Tribute Prince
Cheerios decided to pay respects to Prince just hours after his passing with a simple “rest in peace” with a single Cheerio for the “i.” Cute idea, but bad timing. Users blasted Cheerios for using a celebrity’s death to market their product, and the tweet was hastily deleted.
Lesson: Pay respects, but don’t promote your brand.
The U.S. State Department Thinks You’re Ugly
In a poorly-conceived attempt to keep Americans safe while overseas, the Bureau took to Twitter to warn travelers to be on the lookout for scams. Unfortunately, they chose the most condescending way possible.
Lesson: If a joke is dicey, it’s best to listen to your gut and avoid it.
Coca-Cola Stirs Up Political Drama
Coca-Cola decided to get in the holiday spirit with a festive map…showing pre-World War II Russia. Russians didn’t appreciate the outdated map and Coca-Cola quickly replaced it. In the process, they angered Ukrainians by including the annexed Crimea. Cut to boycotts in both countries.
Lesson: Do your research before posting.
NRSC Insults a Veteran
Politics are often a heated topic on social media, but things exploded when the National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Tammy Duckworth of not standing up for veterans. Tammy, a veteran herself, lost both of her legs while serving in Iraq. Yikes.
Lesson: Pay careful attention to your phrasing. It’s a good idea to have multiple people review a post before you publish.
ASOS Gets Called Out For Using Bots
Users on Facebook started noticing the strangely-worded messages coming from ASOS’ official account. It didn’t take long before people were jumping into the fray, trying to get the bots to respond. Response from ASOS? “These aren’t auto generated.” Whatever you say, Agent Smith.
Lesson: Auto-responders can streamline your social media, but don’t take it too far. Monitor all your incoming messages so you know when to follow-up with a real person.
Total Beauty Confuses Oprah and Whoopi
Total Beauty jumped in on the Oscars fun with a tweet praising Oprah’s sick tats. Problem? The picture was of actress Whoopi Goldberg. With the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trending at the same time on Twitter, Total Beauty was slammed for racism.
Lesson: Don’t get so caught up in jumping on a trending topic that you forget to review before publishing.
Vera Wang Tries to Tap into Girl Power, Doesn’t Go As Planned
Vera Wang rolled out the hashtag #ItsGoodToBeAGirl aiming to celebrate womanhood. Customers were quick to point out that most of their examples reinforced outdated gender rolls. Also that grown women aren’t fond of being called girls.
Lesson: Make sure your strategy connects with your target market. Speak on their level, not under them.
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