Twitter Marketing Epic Fails We Can All Learn From

Twitter Marketing
Getty Images / JGI / Tom Grill

Twitter for Business – You are Doing It Wrong!

Have you ever been looking at your Twitter feed and you see a tweet come through from a business that is just out of line? The tweet just makes you cringe and you want to delete it for them. It also makes you wonder “What were they thinking?” Oh, I have and today I’m going to show you a few of them in hopes that we will all learn from them and not make the mistake.

I’m a firm believer in learning from other’s mistakes, but first let’s talk about why it happens.

Twitter is probably one of the easiest social media channels.  Think about it, 87% of content marketers use Twitter for distribution.  You sign up and you only have to think of 140 characters to blast out there.  Easy, peasy.  Unfortunately, I think the 140 characters throws people and they forget that with the limited characters you don’t exactly have the opportunity to provide an explanation. The key when using Twitter or any social media channel for that matter, is think it through and don’t be careless.

Ok, let’s take a look at a few epic fails that we can learn from.

  • DiGiorno Pizza Misuse of #WhyIStayed in 2014.  You may remember this, Janay Palmer Rice made the decision to stay with Ray Rice after the domestic violence incident that was highly publicized.  The hashtag #WhyIStayed  was trending.  #WhyIStayed is a hashtag that encourages women to open up about why they stayed in violent relationships. Digorno hijacked the hashtag and sent out a tweet that read “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”  This was a huge mistake resulting in a great deal of backlash.  DiGiorno called it unintentional and quickly deleted the tweet, but it will forever live in the digital archive.  
     
  • US Airways Not Safe for Work.  US Airways while responding to a customer’s complaint about delays in what seemed to be a very routine conversation accidentally tweeted a NSFW photo that was not only inappropriate but disgusting. Not to be too graphic, but to give you an idea of what the photo contained without sharing the photo, it was a photo of a model airplane in a woman’s naughty bits. There was a great deal of chatter after this happened, many asking if the Twitter account had been hijacked. US Airways responded with an apology advising that the photo was being flagged and it was accidentally copied and pasted into the customer service Tweet.  Oops!
     
  • U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command Gets MLK Tweet All Wrong.  Holidays or anniversaries are the days you’ll find multiple offenders of Tweets that rank as epic fails.  Unfortunately, those days tend to open up the chances for a brand to embarrass itself beyond recovery.  On January 17, 2014 @MARSOC did just that by tweeting out a photo of a single Marine aiming a gun out of an open window with the caption “Don’t be a lone shooter #MLK weekend! make sure you’ve got security – stay safe.” The tweet was deleted within minutes.   Oops!
     
  • American Apparel Challenger Disaster.  On July 4th American Apparel posted a photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger, mistaking it for fireworks and tagging it with #smoke and #clouds. The photo was posted on Tumblr, not Twitter, but they used Twitter to come out with their apology, stating that the social media employee was not aware of the disaster and thought the photo was just fireworks. The photo was deleted shortly thereafter, but once again still lives in the digital archives.
     
  • Politics Isn’t Protected Consider Anthony Weiner.  So far we’ve only talked about companies, but politicians often get themselves in trouble using social media.  We all remember the Anthony Weiner story that hit the wire in 2011 where he posted a very suggestive photo to his Twitter account, and then later admitted he meant to send it to a 21 year old student.  This scandal led to Mr. Weiner’s resignation.  

    As you can see with Twitter it’s easy to have those “Oops! Moments” but it’s harder to take them back. While Tweets can be deleted the often continue on in the digital archive that will remain forever, so there is really no way to really erase an epic fail.  What steps can you take to avoid a Twitter disaster involving your company?  It’s easy –

    1. Make sure your employees are properly trained to use Twitter. Create social media guidelines and standards.
    2. Have a plan in place if things go awry. You don’t have to respond to everything, but you do have evaluate everything. A listening strategy is not an option, it’s a must.
    3. Keep business and personal separate. This will minimize sending the wrong tweet to the wrong account.
    4. Stay calm and don’t overreact. Take a few moments to breathe, evaluate and respond. No rash decision.