Now that social media has matured, the rational assumption would be that marketers have advanced along with it. It’s clear, however, that for some, the struggle is still very real judging by this year’s social media fails.
The time has come to take stock in our collective growth when it comes to broadcasting ourselves on social media.
In compiling my list this year, I wanted to focus on the not-so-famous fails. We hear a lot about the social media fails that go viral. We have a good laugh or shake our heads and move on.
Over the course of the year, I collected examples of social media fails that are still #SMH inducing but also illustrate clearly what not to do.
It’s my hope that by next year, we’ll have less social media fails and more brands who master their digital reputation.
Before I go on, let me say that it’s not my intention to call people out. In some cases here I’ve left identifying labels out but not in others. If you happen to be any one of these, remain calm, view it as your chance to learn from your mistake and to provide education to others.
None of us are perfect and we’ve all experienced some kind of fail in our lives. If it’s not your turn today, it may be tomorrow. Nothing is beyond repair so use these examples to examine your organization’s social media process.
1. Branding Fail
Over the years, most of us have either used or seen the Paperli Twitter posts. If you aren’t familiar, they are aggregate posts of different articles shared by people for others to enjoy. Many companies use them to further their brand’s reach by delivering helpful, relevant content.
ProTip: Be hyper-aware of the image and story that is listed first when you compile your Paperli post. This one here damages the brand by telling the world nothing about organic and quite possibly makes people want to barf.
2. Cross Posting Fails
Listen, I get it. Social media takes time and requires one to think before one posts. We all get busy but if you’re too busy to post directly to the platform you’re networking on, it’s time to reassess things.
Please don’t auto-post from Facebook to Twitter (or vice versa). The language is different on each platform and it just looks like you don’t care.
ProTip: Nobody needs all caps and three exclamation points in their life.
3. Social Team Scheduling Fail
When implemented properly, scheduling of social media posts is time-saving and cost-effective. However, if you’ve got a team handling the publishing, communication is crucial.
McDonald’s clearly had a placeholder post that didn’t get edited in time for publication. Wendy’s (the savage of the Twitter world) took advantage of McDonald’s mistake.
One of the great things about social media is that it’s in real time. It’s very possible, if you’re clever enough, to recover from your social media fail, which is what McDonald’s did.
4. Corvette Facebook Ad Fail
When you pay a company to do your Facebook ads for you, they really should have some knowledge of how much your products cost.
Technically, if someone had wanted to, they could have used this ad to get a Corvette for $15,000.
I have seen this exact situation happen twice and both times, the dealer lost the argument. They also got slaughtered on social media for trying to renege on their “offer.”
5. Ad Compliance Fail
And speaking of ads that don’t pass the compliance test…
ProTip: Never publish payment terms without standard disclaimers. It can bring a lot of unwanted attention, especially from attorneys and government agencies. The better move here was to exclude payment terms on the ad and entice the user to click through to a landing page that includes the disclaimers.
6. Women’s Empowerment Fail
Helpful hint guys: this is probably not the best choice of content for your “Women’s Empowerment Series.” Why? We’ve been privy to your point of view our entire lives and we certainly don’t need to pay to hear more of it.
When I first shared this, everyone thought it was “fake news,” but it’s real.
There was such a backlash on social media that they decided to cancel it. Good first step, guys!
7. More Than a Social Media Fail
Alan Ram was a respected automotive sales trainer who was tragically killed in a plane crash (he and his fiance were killed when their private plane experienced problems over Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year). He was a good guy who I knew from conferences where we both gave workshops.
One of Alan’s segments on this news show was called “Ram on Fire.” That fact is sad enough. What no one figured out apparently was that it would be in poor taste to use it as a backdrop to report Alan’s untimely demise.
8. Unforgettable Fail
9. International Women’s Day Fail
Nothing celebrates modern women like reminders of the 50’s housewife stereotype.
Miele deleted the post after a few hours.
10. Featured Image Fail
This is one social media fail that no one should be committing today, especially not a “major metropolitan newspaper.” Sadly, I see this happen quite regularly.
Below is a San Diego Union Tribune article that was shared on Facebook. The featured image is the reporter on the piece, however the headline makes it look like she’s the horse rancher!
ProTip: Please, make sure your posts are populating the way you intend them to. Facebook has disallowed any edits on links by users so it’s up to you to get your content right.