#TechTuesday: When Bad Social Media Happens To Good Brands

Happy July, folks!

On this week’s installment of #TechTuesday, I want to discuss the recent social media faux pauxs that I’ve seen on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds. Many companies and brands have learned to use social media as way to connect with their customers, build brand loyalty and keep stakeholders in the loop about new developments. But as of  late, some companies have really tried it and have taken their tweets a little bit TOO far — which ultimately has tarnished their brand reputation rather than enhanced it.

Check out this list of a few companies that have slipped up recently, and learn a few lessons of what NOT to do on social media:


1. KLM – “Adios Amigos!” In celebration of the Netherlands soccer team victory over Mexico in the World Cup, Royal Dutch Airlines thought it would be a great idea to tweet the above image and “politely” tell their opponents to take a hike. I actually saw this tweet happen in real-time and it completely blew my mind that they continued to answer customer inquiries, not thinking that they were going to get caught. Well eventually, enough Twitter users saw the offensive tweet, and the airline carrier apologized for their insensitivity.

2. U.S. Airways- “I’m pretty sure planes don’t go there.” Back in April, U.S. Airways was holding a simple Twitter conversation with a passenger that was unhappy with their flight being delayed. In an effort to adequately respond to her complaint, the airline giant sent a link to where she could provide feedback, along with a VERY disturbing and graphic image. If you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it — if you haven’t, there’s Google. What was surprising to most was how long (a full hour) it took for U.S. Airways to take the image down from their Twitter account. They too, expressed their deepest apologies and reassured that they were going to look into the incident.


3. FAFSA – “Help Me, I’m Poor.” *Sigh* Now if you’ve seen the movie Bridesmaids, you can recall that this particular scene in the movie is actually quite funny. But when you’re trying to encourage young students going off to college for the first time to complete an application for financial aid? Probably not the best example to use. I get it — companies and organizations want to find new and hip ways to connect with millennials, so why not reference pop culture, right? Well friend, this not only was offensive to those that are in fact  less fortunate, but also poking fun at those millions of millennials that are currently in debt from educational loans. Like the two companies above, they apologized and acknowledged their insensitivity.


4. JCPenney- “Tweeting with mittens is hard.” Now, as I was sitting watching the Super Bowl with my cell phone in had, I was quite confused as to why there were so many typos coming from the JCPenney Twitter account. Apparently, it was the retail company’s plan to send “fake drunk tweets” in honor of the unofficial American holiday. Once it was clear of their intentions, other brands began to send tweets of concern — but it wasn’t until an hour later that JCPenney revealed that they were tweeting with mittens the whole time. *blank stare* While this wasn’t that bad of a look for JCPenney in the end, we  now know that it’s just best to type with bare hands.

delta-airlines5. Delta Airlines – “Because there are totally giraffes in Ghana.” In effort to congratulate the USA Men’s soccer team win over Ghana in the World Cup, Delta Airlines thought it would be cute to display the final score in the form of images. There’s only one problem: Ghana isn’t known for having giraffes roam their country. So not only did the social media manager that approved  this tweet not know much about African geography, but they made inadequate assumptions about the continent of Africa. I think it is safe to say that airlines should stop tweeting about the World Cup altogether.

Moral of the story: when you’re about to share something on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network, you want to make sure that it is accurate, factual and sharing information that isn’t offensive to others. Each of these companies (I hope) have learned their lesson from their social media blunders, and hopefully have shown other brands how important it is to research before sending out that 140 character message. It’s not a bad thing to try new things on social media — I think that’s what makes this particular medium of communication awesome. But to avoid having to apologize later, it’s always best to research, proofread, copy write — do whatever is necessary before clicking send.

Do you call any other companies or organizations that may have slipped up using social media? Comment below or send me a tweet — have a wonderful week!



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