For a huge number of businesses, social media is an important tool for many reasons: more efficient customer service, communicating with a wider range of people and shouting about new developments being just a few. All businesses who use social media, however, need to ensure that staff are fully trained, that a social media brand identity is stuck to by all users, and that the right people have access to the brand’s social media accounts. If not managed properly, social media can go horribly wrong, as these examples from some of the world’s biggest brands show…
1. HMV lose control of their Twitter Feed
When your brand is going into administration and laying off staff, it’s wise to remember who has control of your Twitter account. In a meeting with the HR team, 60 members of staff were told that they were being laid off…one of whom had access to the company’s Twitter account. Live tweeting the meeting with the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring, the 21 year old employee successfully proved the value of social media to the senior managers who had previously disagreed.
2. British Airways and the importance of time
Customer complaints via Twitter are nothing new, they’re a part of social media that brands have to learn to manage. But when Hasan Syed paid for a promoted tweet to complain about British Airways service in handling his father’s lost luggage, the story went viral.
By paying for a promoted tweet, Syed reached a far wider audience than he would have done by simply tweeting to his followers. The tweet was seen by over 76,000 Twitter users and picked up by the media…but British Airways failed to respond for another 8 hours, stating that their Twitter feed was only monitored from 9am to 5pm. Brands that operate 24/7 should always ensure that their social media accounts are monitored during the same period, in case things get out of hand.
3. PC World logo error: mistake, or deliberate attack?
For PC World, an event from March 2014 proved that it’s not just social media that needs to be monitored, but your whole online presence. An online news site discovered that Googling “PC World” brought up a snippet of information on the right hand side of Google’s search results that seemed ok at first…until they took a closer look at the logo. It is unclear as to whether this was a mistake or an attack, but PC World responded quickly to have the issue rectified.
4. Tesco fails to rein in horse meat tweet
Scheduled tweets are a great idea, giving you the chance to keep your Twitter feed fresh even when you’re away from your screen. For Tesco, a scheduled tweet at the time of the horse meat scandal referred to staff hitting the hay after a long day, a bit close to the bone when customers are already incensed about the news. Tesco claim the tweet was scheduled before the news broke, and apologised for the gaffe.
5. Hackers have fun with Burger King and Jeep
When you’re a global company, the last thing you want is for your social media accounts to be hacked, and for the hackers to start promoting your biggest rivals. That’s what happened with Burger King when their account was hijacked, their logo changed to the golden arches and tweets claiming that they had been sold to McDonalds, amongst more offensive allegations. Control of the feed was regained soon afterwards, by which time the hackers had moved on to Jeep, replacing their profile picture with a Cadillac logo.
6. Nokia New Zealand offend their customers
When Nokia New Zealand’s Twitter account suddenly posted a “Fuck you” message to its followers in November 2013, nobody could understand why. And neither could Nokia, with theories suggesting that it could have been an unhappy employee, a hacker or someone posting from the wrong account by mistake. They quickly apologised and moved on…
7. EE and sharing interesting content
When EE posted “dfdfd” on their Facebook page, did it mean anything? No. Did anyone understand why they did it? No. Did it make them look a bit silly? Yes. Brands need to be careful when posting, as even if something is only online for a minute, it is still likely to be seen…
8. JP Morgan ask for trouble with #AskJPM
A Twitter based forum for people to ask questions to a senior JP Morgan executive sounded like a great idea to the brand at the time. However, when you’re a bank that’s facing criminal probes and doesn’t have the best public image as a result, it might be wise not to court criticism. After thousands of negative tweets using their #AskJPM hashtag, they decided that it was best to pull the forum.