How Not To Use Social Media

How Not To Use Social Media

Posted by on in Case Studies, Social Media

Social Media is a huge marketing tool for those who use it correctly. It gives the user an opportunity to communicate with people in ways that were unheard of just a short decade ago. With Facebook and Twitter holding approximately 1.5 billion active users combined, Social Media continues to grow at a stratospheric rate, with the likes of Vine, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ all pushing to the forefront, each hoping to join Facebook and Twitter as one of the world’s leading Social Media websites.

But what happens when things go wrong? What happens when a huge company misplaces a hashtag, or uses an irrelevant like to interact with their followers?

In this blog, we will delve into a few of the biggest social mistakes made by some of the world’s most renowned companies. As well as offering you an entertaining look into Social Media disasters, we will hopefully help you refrain from making these mistakes in the future.

1. Hashtags Gone Wrong

For those of you who are a little out of touch with popular culture, a hashtag is a revolutionary way of searching for a specific word or phrase that is scattered around the internet. When used correctly, social media suddenly becomes more effective, but when used incorrectly, it can lead to catastrophic results.

Last year, Britain’s Got Talent runner up, Susan Boyle, was ready to release her third album, and tried to gain some social media hype by promoting a party through Twitter. Now, we’re not too sure if SuBo actually controls her own Twitter account, but the hashtag #Susanalbumparty didn’t have the same positive reaction it had originally intended (look closely if you can’t see the faux pas). Instead, thousands of Twitter users jumped on the bandwagon to mock the poorly worded hashtag.

Susan Boyle Tweet

Luckily for Susan Boyle, the hashtag failure continued to promote the album, but the same can’t be said for fast food chain McDonald’s, who decided to use the hashtag #McDStories to gain some publicity on Twitter. Instead, they received a barrage of abuse, with users sharing grim and negative stories about their experiences in McDonald’s.

Mcdonalds Stories

2. Predetermined Tweeting

Software such as Hootsuite gives Social Media navigators the opportunity to release timed tweets, allowing a large amount of messages to be released whenever they choose. Sure, it’s a great time saving tool, but as news often changes at a rapid rate, it could potentially lead to some unnecessary and company-damaging tweets being released.

After the horsemeat scandal hit the UK in 2013, supermarket giants Tesco released a customer-friendly tweet wishing their followers goodnight.

Tesco Tweet
Not an ideal tweet to send in the middle of a backlash. A predetermined message sent by Hootsuite was blamed for the lack of sensitivity and an apology was issued. Another example involves America’s NRA, when they released a tweet wishing their followers ‘Good Morning’.
American Rifleman Tweet
The simple tweet was scheduled days in advance. Unfortunately for the NRA, the horrific shooting during the midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises in Colorado occurred the night before. After a huge backlash, the NRA eventually closed down the Twitter page.

3. Think About Viral Videos

With 1 billion active users, YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform. The website allows people around the world to view both amateur and professional videos. It also allows viral videos to be shared with a large audience, some of which could have a negative impact upon a company.

Greenpeace decided to target Nestle, making claims about the impact their use of palm oil is having on the Indonesian rainforests. The video, aptly named ‘Have A Break?’, was viewed millions of times before Nestle had it removed.


Pizza chain, Dominoes, had a similar experience, with young employees posting videos of themselves putting inedible objects on customers pizzas. Again, the video went viral, and the employees were given the sack just 24 hours after the video was released onto the Internet.

4.Insensitive Messages

Ok, so, technically, insensitive tweets could fall into a few of the categories above, but the importance of it means that we’ve given it its own section. Insensitivity often leads to a negative impact of your account, and could damage the reputation of your brand. Particularly on Twitter, companies aim tweets to fit the trends, regardless of the background.

American brand, Epicurious, released some reckless tweets during the Boston Marathon bombings last year.

Epicurious Tweet

Trying to sell produce or promote your brand on the back of a disaster will only lead to negative PR. In an age where posts are repeatedly shared, it’s not ideal to go against your readership. After enraging their 350,000+ followers, they deleted the tweets and released an apologetic statement on Twitter.

London Luton Airport took to Facebook to make light of the snowstorm in the UK, posting a picture to try and defuse some of the recent worries. The image involved a plane accident that killed a passenger. They quickly deleted the message and issued an apology to those offended.

Luton Airport Plan Crash Facebook Post


Social Media, as a whole, creates a positive impact, and as a user you can take advantage of its purposes, but that doesn’t mean you should abuse it.
Think about your ‘social reputation’ and how it can affect you and others. Reread messages you’re about to post, and think about all possible future outcomes. Check all trending topics before you jump on the back of them and think about those you could potentially be offending.

Social Media isn’t a scary medium. If you’re a bit sensible and use it to its full strength, it will benefit you and your company in the long haul.

Looking forward to boosting your Social Media Marketing efforts, but don’t want to make the same mistakes as the above? Not to worry… email us at and we can provide you with an effective social media strategy.

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