public relations

11 Classic Fails in Social Media Marketing

small business social media

Social media: Done correctly, it’s a fantastic marketing tool for your small business. However, when done the wrong way, you can sully your brand and send customers packing. That’s why it’s important to have a very clear idea of what “doing it wrong” looks like.

The following 11 brands clearly did not do social media correctly. Check out these cringe-worthy, real-life posts, and you’ll gain a better understanding of what to avoid when writing up your own social posts:

The Department of Education Needs to Go Back to School

Spelling mistakes can happen to the best of us. But maybe when you’re the Department of Education, you should double-check your tweets before you become the laughingstock of a nation. Not only did the DoE misspell NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois’ name in the initial post, but they somehow managed to screw up the subsequent apology post, too, tweeting “Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.”


Adidas Opens Up Old Wounds

An athletic shoe giant talking about the Boston Marathon generally wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows – after all, newsjacking is a common practice in the marketing world.

But only a few years after three people died and hundreds were injured in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, you’d think Adidas could come up with a better choice of words in 2017 than “Congrats on surviving the Boston Marathon.”

Coca-Cola Erases Part of Russia

Marketing mishaps aren’t just limited to within America’s borders. Coca-Cola tweeted a cute, snow-covered map of Russia, presumably to show that the beverage was loved all across the country. The problem? The map was outdated, completely omitting Kaliningrad.

To be fair, the city has only belonged to Russia since 1945 or so. Honest mistake.

On 9/11, Remember the … Mattresses?

A San Antonio-based mattress store had a sale going on: Buy any size mattress and get it for the price of a twin.

The sale sounds good, but the marketing angle wasn’t. The company went with a 9/11 “Twin Towers” theme … and it gets worse! At the end of the commercial, posted on the store’s Facebook page, people in the background are seen screaming and falling onto mattresses as the store owner assures viewers, “We’ll never forget.”

A Rocket’s Red Glare?

To show their patriotic spirit for the Fourth of July, American Apparel posted an image of what they thought were fireworks on their Instagram page. Upon closer inspection, however, it turned out to be a still shot of the Challenger space shuttle explosion that killed all seven astronauts on board.

Always read your Shutterstock tags, kids!

I Stayed for the Pizza

Piggybacking on a popular hashtag is a great way to get your social media posts seen – provided you understand what the hashtag is all about. For instance, the #WhyIStayed hashtag was all over social media in 2014, intended to shed light on the plight of domestic violence survivors. DiGiorno Pizza, however, didn’t get the memo … and tweeted out, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”

Heinz Fails to Renew a Domain Name, Disaster Ensues

Back in 2015, Heinz ran a promotion concerning QR codes: scan the code on the back of the ketchup bottle and get a personalized bottle of ketchup. When the promotion ended, Heinz let the domain name link to the QR code expire, because why should a multibillion-dollar company waste literally tens of dollars a year on a domain they don’t want anymore?

What they failed to realize was that some of the ketchup bottles were still out there, and the code was now taking people somewhere else. That “somewhere else” ended up being a German site of an … ahem, adult nature. (Don’t worry! The link only goes to more detailed coverage.)

Kmart Sends Thoughts, Prayers and Promotional Hashtags

The Sandy Hook massacre devastated the entire nation when 26 people, most of them children, were gunned down just 11 days before Christmas in 2012. Twitter was abuzz with thoughts and prayers. Kmart jumped on the bandwagon, including the trending hashtags #PrayForNewtown and #CTShooting — but then went completely off the rails by adding a third, non-trending hashtag: #Fab15Toys. People didn’t find their attempts to profit off murdered elementary school children as particularly sensitive.

The NRA Manages to Offend Even Its Own Supporters

Whatever your stance on gun control, we think everyone can agree that the NRA tweeting “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” just hours after the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting is a bad look.

That’s all we have to say about that.

That’s Not How Soap Works, Dove

Today, cultural diversity is expected everywhere, but Dove completely missed the mark when it tried to accommodate that in a 2017 commercial.

It begins with a woman of color wearing a dark brown shirt, presumably meant to indicate “dirt.” The woman peels her shirt off and reveals a totally different woman underneath. The problem? The new woman is Caucasian. This unleashed a racially charged mess that even Dove soap (and some apologetic tweets) had a hard time cleaning up!

Bic Offends Women on National Women’s Day

On a day meant to celebrate and empower women in South Africa, Bic decided to go a different direction. Instead, the razor maker posted an ad on its Facebook page of a smiling woman with a caption that read “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” Somehow, telling women how they need to look and act, as well as not-so-subtly implying that men have superior “thinking” skills, didn’t go over well.

Who’d have thought?

One tone-deaf tweet or hastily made Facebook post might not sink a giant multinational with massive brand equity, but it can have disastrous consequences for small businesses that are trying to make a name for themselves. And typically, once a lousy social post gets out there and gets wings, there’s no clawing it back.

Do you need some help avoiding social media marketing mishaps? Give Mischa Communications a call! We’ll help you make sure you never end up on a list like this one.