Social media is now not only a key component of how companies communicate with their customers and clients, but is often the first point of contact between public and organisation beyond well-crafted marketing, advertising and PR messages cultivated to develop a brand. However, while these messages are the result of countless hours and financial investment, a brand can be severely damaged by one misfiring tweet sent in a second of misjudgement.
You may be surprised how many major companies have had their fair share of Facebook fiascos and Twitter troubles – take a look at a few of the worst and see where it’s all gone wrong!
Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter
While tweeting plot snippets may seem a great way to drum up interest for an upcoming video game, live-tweeting a hyper-realistic, but thankfully fictional, terrorist attack definitely isn’t. However, this is exactly what the Call of Duty Twitter account did in a series of tweets that detailed an unfolding ‘attack’ in Singapore.
Not only were the tweets closely modelled on the way real news organisations tweet about terrorist attacks as news rolls in, but the account had convincingly rebranded itself to mimic a real news site.
While the tweets did progressively become more far-fetched, leading many to realise this was a PR stunt, the initial shock fooled quite a few of the account’s 2.8 million followers – a good example of the importance of understanding the power Twitter can hold and how quickly something can spread!
Tweeting about serious matters is something which should always be handled delicately. One definite no-no, however, is piggybacking on a tragedy and its related hashtags to try and sell a product.
You’d be surprised how many big brands have fallen for this one; from Build-a-Bear’s tweet featuring a bear in combat fatigues on the anniversary of 9/11 to Kenneth Cole’s tweet during the Arab Spring suggesting that the uproar was due to the release of its new spring collection, it’s shocking how often companies have trivialised serious events in an effort to promote themselves.
However, social media gaffes of this ilk are not always a crass attempt at selling products – sometimes badly misjudging a response can be even worse. After Everton defeated Sunderland 6-2 a Twitter user, in a poor attempt at humour, decided to tweet to the official Merseyside Police account.
For an institution such as the police to trivialise something as severe as rape with an insensitive joke is nothing less than shocking and led to a huge backlash. Of course, the individual in question has been sacked, but the damage to the organisation had been done.
Check and double check
Disney Japan fell foul of a lack of due care when a seemingly innocuous tweet referencing the lyrics of an Alice in Wonderland song turned into a nightmare due to a combination of unfortunate translation and poor timing. The offending lyrics “A very merry unbirthday to you!” seem harmless enough in English – however in Japanese this read more like “Congratulations on a not special day.” Coupled with the fact that this was tweeted on the 70th anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Nagasaki it created a rather awkward situation. While there was no intended malice or insensitivity in this tweet, a bit of thought would have saved a few red faces!
While it may not cause offense in the same manner as the above examples, getting your spelling wrong makes your brand seem amateurish and unprofessional. Morrison’s attempt to tweet about Bonfire Night last week was a bit of a facepalm moment:
Of course, it’s not all bad news! A well-managed social media account is a crucial arm of developing an approachable, human face for companies. These bad examples are vastly outweighed by stories of social media being used to an organisation’s advantage – often generating excellent results, both commercially and in terms of public goodwill.
Here at Acceleris we’re experts in developing and managing social media accounts to ensure our clients are engaging with their target audience in the best way possible. Why not give us a call to see what we can do for you?