How Brands Go Wrong on Social Media – Three Examples

By OctaneGo, September 27, 2012 | Tips & Resources

If social media is replete with glowing case studies of how brands are extending their presence, there are also plenty of instances that shine as examples of caution against wholesale embarrassment. Here are three examples that highlight how carelessness on social media can quickly backfire. If you’re a business concerned about your social media presence, learn from these harsh but true stories:

  • KennethCole’s Arab Spring gaffe: The best way to become the center of attention is by doing something connected to the popular events, but KennethCole took the advice the wrong way when it tweeted this during the Arab Spring:


    The backlash was swift and embarrassing. #KennethColetweets started trending on Twitter as scathing criticism and clever spinoffs started pouring in, resulting in the kind of publicity the company never intended. The CEO duly issued a public apology later, but it could do little to mend the millions of sentiments hurt.

  • McDonald’s Twitter bane: Usually known for its smart social media strategy, McDonald’s thought it was on to something interesting when it launched the #McDStories tag to channel conversations and optimize conversions. Surprise, surprise! The hashtag started attracting more negative stories than positive ones, and the situation soon got out of hand. One only needs to sample this tweet (courtesy LA Times) to understand how unpleasant it must have been:

    “These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece Chicken McNuggets left in the sun for a week.”

    The lesson here is clear: Social media doesn’t always behave as you want, and it doesn’t take long for the exception to become the rule. Factor in these considerations when planning your campaigns.

  • HabitatUK’s sour apple: HabitatUK came under heavy fire for taking recourse to hashtag spamming for promoting its products. Imagine the plight of Apple aficionados when their Twitter searches for the latest news started throwing up discount offers:


    Within seconds users started bombarding @HabitatUK asking them to justify this blatant hashtag spamming. It’s not clear how much HabitatUK gained in terms of business from this campaign, but it sure lot a lot of reputation and future customers.

So there we have it. Three examples where brands that saw their social media bandwagon derail in no time, all thanks to lack of foresight. Incidents like these go on to show that on social media, the consumer has as much influence as you do, building your online reputation is something that needs time, dedication, sincerity and capable tools that can give you proper insights and guidance. Recognizing this and using social media cautiously but effectively can lead to results that have a positive impact on a business and its reputation.

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