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24/09/2013 by

The Worst Social Media Disasters Of 2013

Back in March I wrote about how the year had just started and already brands had failed in social media. It’s six months later: where are we at now? Let’s take a look at a few of the worst social media disasters that have taken place since then.

social media disaster

Social media bloopers are always fun to read about, and finding the worst one is an entertaining challenge. Here’s a small list of my favourites.

Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is at it again, writing tacky tweets about Syria to promote his own shoes. On September 5th he mocked the phrase “boots on the ground,” (see below) used multiple times by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with regards to sending in ground troops in Syria. His followers were not amused. The tweet was removed, and Kenneth himself tweeted his apologies.

Kenneth Cole

Cole later on released a video statement on Instagram, in which he claimed he had placed the tweet to “provoke dialogue about Syria” and was still in favor of the tweet.

Taco Bell

Another version of the ’employee posts disgusting imagery on social media.’ This time, it’s Taco Bell’s turn. An employee posted a photo on their personal Facebook page of another employee licking a stack of taco shells. Of course, hygiene is a big deal when it comes to franchises like this, and soon after the photo was made public, a storm of negative comments were made. Taco Bell soon released a statement on its website, stating that the shells were not sold to customers, and were merely meant as practice material for employees. The employees involved were fired.

taco bell

British Airways 

Complaining about airlines losing luggage isn’t new. Complaining about airlines losing luggage through a sponsored tweet is. That is exactly what a man did when British Airways lost his father’s luggage. He set up a sponsored tweet on Twitter, releasing it into the wild throughout New York City and the United Kingdom. What did it cost him? Well, only $1000. British Airways responded the next day on Twitter, offering to help the man. What they should have done in the first place.

british airways

Amy’s Baking Company

The number 1 spot is absolutely for Amy’s Baking Company. The American local restaurant was prominently featured, and criticized, in Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares US. As if their appearance on the show wasn’t enough – the owners stole tips from waitresses, and served storebought frozen ravioli – they had to go and make things worse on their company Facebook page. The restaurant’s owners were mocked on Reddit and Facebook, and felt the need to consequently defend themselves.

Amy's Baking Company

Amy's Baking Company

Of course, they didn’t leave it at multiple comments like this, insulting their customers. Finally they figured out that this was not the way to go, and decided to blame someone else:

Amy's Baking Company

Simply baffling.

Check out the full staggering episode below:

YouTube Preview Image

My Opinion

There’s always something to learn about social media no-nos like this. What should they have done differently?

Well, for one, don’t use sensitive events (like the situation in Syria, or 9/11) for your own brand’s benefit. Even if you mean well, the majority of people aren’t going to appreciate it.

Release a statement on the appropriate channel. If your social media incident happens on Facebook, release it on Facebook, not on your brand’s website.

Respond as quick as you can, not 4 hours later after a promoted tweet has gone public to tens of thousands of people. Offer to help someone in a genuine way, not through an impersonal tweet.

Never, ever insult your customers. Always respond positively and politely. And don’t pretend you’ve been hacked, when really the whole situation is your fault.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any more 2013 social media disasters to add? Please let us know!

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About The Author
Marion aan ‘t Goor is a Social Media Risk Management Consultant at Foster & Fleming. You can connect with Marion via Twitter and LinkedIn.


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