If a person raises an issue on social media, they can just delete it. With companies, things are a little different. They can't fix their mistake fast enough for no one to notice. Within minutes, a barrage of angry customers and malicious jokes surfaced. Then these companies have to struggle through and try to pick up the pieces. It's a lot easier said than done. Here are some of the top corporate social media fails of 2023 from popular brands.
Table of contents
- Corporate social media failed
- 25 times companies have dropped the ball on social media
- The worst offenders
- frequently asked Questions
- Summary of the rules for digital marketing
Corporate social media failed
Why do corporate social media fail so often? Unfortunately, a small oversight in the advertising department is enough. Either the team is too lazy to care or they don't understand the social climate. Sometimes companies just try to be hip but fail at research. In other cases, employees are unfamiliar with the Internet, so domains are lost or tweets are misinterpreted. However it occurs, it's pretty weird to see the impact and how companies are trying to clean up their mess.
25 Times Companies Have Dropped The Ball On Social Media [Stats & Facts]
Businesses are definitely not immune to Internet errors. Even the big names screw it up sometimes and it makes the fans very angry. Check out this list of the 25 biggest corporate social media failures of 2023. From meme abuse to insensitive jokes, these are the worst of the worst.
1. Boston-Marathon-E-Mail von Adidas
The 2013 Boston Marathon made history because of the terrorist attack that took place during the race. Two home-made bombs exploded, killing 3 people. Dozens more sustained injuries, and 16 of those victims lost limbs. Adidas seemed to have forgotten all that because they sent an insensitive email to runners after the event. The subject of the email was: "Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon."
2. SnapChat's "Would you rather" about Rihanna
SnapChat is a social platform that is always on the rise. However, they received backlash after posting a quiz about Rihanna. A popular game, Would You Rather, typically involves outrageous tasks or situations. SnapChat made the mistake of creating a question based on Rihanna and Chris Brown's feud. The question: "Would you rather slap Rihanna or hit Chris Brown?"
3. Cinnabon Banks on Carrie Fisher's death
The loss of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher was devastating. Cinnabon seemed to see Fisher as a cash cow even after death. They ran an ad of the actress as Princess Leia with cinnamon rolls as her signature hairstyle. This was all an attempt to sell more product, and it was absolutely insensitive to Fisher's life and death. Star Wars fans definitely didn't like that.
4. US Airways' NSFW response to a tweet
US Airways frequently responds to customer complaints and questions via Twitter. Well, one day they spiced things up — seriously. The airline published an illustration when responding to a customer who complained about a delayed flight. An X-rated image. How this NSFW image got through privacy settings the world may never know.
5. Pigeon: Transformation in reverse direction
A misstep by Dove is always a big disappointment. The brand has done so much to empower women and break beauty norms. One of their campaigns "missed completely," as they later said. The ad begins with a black woman wearing a brown t-shirt. She takes off her shirt and shows a white woman in a white t-shirt. People quickly recognized the ad as racially charged, and complaints ensued. Dove apologized and realized her mistake, but it was still a big blow.
6. Fast-paced new espresso from Starbucks
This coffee giant is known for pushing the envelope, but people weren't ready for their new espresso. Starbucks introduced the blonde drink with flirtatious advertising and salacious language. Some examples were "Blondes Have More Fun" and "Tall, Blonde, and Beautiful". It also let customers order "tall blondes." Surely Barista didn't like this cumbersome new style of ordering!
7. Twitter's CFO wasn't too savvy
One would expect the CFO of a social media platform to have great online etiquette. Unfortunately, former boss Anthony Noto screwed it up. He accidentally tweeted a direct message to the whole world. There was talk of a possible merger, although privacy details such as the company involved were not disclosed. Could that be the reason why Noto isn't around anymore?
8. Nothing beats a short stack of tampons
A few years ago, IHOP decided to become IHOB: International House of Burgers. However, the combination of her font and the new "b" wasn't the best choice. It made a lot of ladies laugh. IHOB's "OB" was similar to the brand image for o.b. tampons.
9. T-Mobile Austria finds it difficult to clarify
T-Mobile Austria responded to a customer tweet about passwords that shook things up. The customer asked if the company stores passwords in clear text. The answer they received didn't help anyone and raised privacy issues. The company responded with "Yes" and "I really don't see why this is a problem." People quickly freaked out about the lack of password security.
10. False alarm, Queen Elizabeth
The Queen may be in her 90s, but she's still alive and kicking. Back in 2015, the BBC's Ahmen Khawaja tweeted that "Queen Elizabeth has died". Was this a pre-emptive death warning after the monarch's hospital visit? Did Khawaja want to be the first to tweet it? Regardless, it was distasteful and landed her in trouble with the BBC.
11th Olympic Winter Games in … P.F. changs?
A news station from Chicago reported on the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Unfortunately, someone at the Pyeongchang studio with P.F. Changs. The restaurant chain played along and published a humorous tweet of its own. Viewers taunted the channel with all sorts of Chinese puns. An Olympiad at P.F. Changs would certainly be the best games of all time.
12. Razer goes over the line
Apple already advertised its new MacBook Pro in 2016. One disappointing feature was the lack of an SD card slot. Razer fired back with a cheeky tweet that didn't help its marketing at all. "You call yourself a pro? S my D.” The message was quickly greeted with negative reactions, and Razer removed it after a day.
13. Happy 4th of July, Liberia
YouTube Creators Twitter needs a new manager. For July 4th, 2018, they released a holiday message for other Americans. It was a nice sentiment but they shared the false flag emoji. Hers had red and white stripes with a star. This is the flag of Liberia, not that of the United States of America.
14. What is more feminine than a washing machine?
The German household appliance manufacturer committed a major faux pas on International Women's Day. They tweeted, "May all women... embrace what makes them unique!" So what was up with the four white ladies smiling next to a washing machine? The marketing was neither unique nor celebratory for women. Miele appears to be in the 1950s, not 2023.
15. Lockheed Martins Weltfototag-Flop
Lockheed Martin, which sells guns, wanted customers to attend World Photo Day. So they asked her to share a picture of one of their products. Users on Twitter were outraged and shared images of various violent crimes involving firearms. Not exactly the image the brand was looking for.
16. Uber's bad timing
There was a lot of backlash after President Trump's travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. Taxi drivers in New York City expressed their anger by refusing to provide service at JFK Airport. At the same time, Uber ran an advertising campaign for its rides. Customers were extremely upset at the company's poor timing.
17. Betsy DeVos vs. W.E.B. you bois
This snafu happened the same week that Trump named Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education. The Department of Education released a tweet honoring civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. you bois However, they misspelled his last name as "DeBois." It sparked public outrage and was seen as a complete failure, leaving everyone with a sour taste in their mouths.
18. A Yanny/Laurel joke taken too far
the us Air Force got on the Yanny/Laurel train in 2018. However, there was nothing funny about her tweet. They joked that the Taliban would rather have heard Yanny or Laurel than the Air Force drone strike. The jab made death easy and tasteless.
19. Anti-Hillary Clinton Retweet von IHOP
The pancake restaurant chain knows best when it comes to screwing up online. They retweeted a tweet wishing everyone a good morning except those who deny Clinton ran a trash campaign. The community on Twitter wasted no time in calling out IHOP. The company responded by saying they were hacked.
20. The CEO of Amazon feels the heat on Earth Day
After Jeff Bezos wished everyone a nice Earth Day and tweeted about dog sledding, the Twitterverse lost it. They roasted Bezos online, pointing out that Amazon employees are struggling in oppressive working conditions. Comedian Sarah Silverman even pointed out that many Amazon workers depend on food stamps, so they certainly wouldn't take off for Earth Day. Bezos felt the heat for it.
21. Incomplete tweet from McDonald's about Black Friday
McDonald's Twitter should post a message about Black Friday deals. Instead, the tweet read: "Black Friday ***copy and link required****. It looks like the placeholder went out before the actual tweet. Curiously, the error drew more attention than the correct tweet likely would have gotten. Maybe it was for the best!
22. Dolce & Gabbana is losing its Chinese audience
The fashion brand ran an ad showing a Chinese woman trying to eat Italian food with chopsticks. It sparked a media reaction and several stores dropped Dolce & Gabbana. They had to cancel their Shanghai show, saying they had "a lot to learn." Maybe they'll have better luck in 2023.
23. Wendy's sends the wrong message
Wendy's Twitter is cheeky and has some wild replies. But when they posted a picture of Pepe the Frog, it was over. The meme evolved to depict white supremacy, which is why its inclusion on Wendy's Twitter sparked outrage. The restaurant chain blamed the lack of digital awareness of their community manager.
24. Chick-fil-A could use a geography lesson
A fan tweeted at the restaurant asking about a deal at the North Pole in Alaska. Yes, this city really exists. Chick-Fil-A responded that they were not currently expanding beyond North America. Too bad Alaska is in North America.
25. The New York Times' unique take on millennials
The nationally recognized newspaper had a major error in its online article on President Trump's trade claims. The newspaper's editor used a joke browser extension called "Millennials to Snake People". The result was a digital article that labeled young people as snakes. The readers were nothing short of perplexed when they read this.
Social Media Fails: The Worst Culprits
While everyone makes mistakes online from time to time, some mistakes are hard to forget. This is a list of the worst offenders when it comes to funny social media blunders. Businesses and individuals should try to avoid these at all costs.
1. Posting Non-Brand Content
Many companies use Paper.li to add engaging digital content for their audience. Nonetheless, a simple slip can lead to off-brand illustrations and stories. For TheOrganicView, this was a crucial mistake. Instead of reposting helpful nutritional news, they shared a story about a child molester.
2. A self-centered perspective
SJ Magazine really screwed up when they shared news about their Women's Empowerment Series. The topic was Women in Business: A Man's Perspective. Viewers were quick to point out that there was nothing empowering about it. The magazine eventually shut down the series after receiving countless emails about it.
3. Platforms are not the same
Even those who aren't social media experts know that every platform works differently. Therefore, people cannot post the exact same format on every channel. When a company takes its Facebook content and posts it on Twitter, it just screams laziness.
4. A warning about Facebook ads
It is important to understand the product being advertised. When Corvette used Facebook ads to build hype for their new model, it was a disaster. The ad said the car was only $15,000. The car brand could have sold Corvettes at a $45,000 discount.
5. Must keep up with schedules
The internet can be a difficult place. When a brand doesn't stick to their upload schedule, viewers can get angry. McDonald's dropped the ball when its placeholder text was accidentally tweeted publicly. It's so important to stay ahead of those release schedules.
6. Ad Compliance and Trustworthiness
When companies don't adhere to ad compliance, they end up with a lot of disgruntled customers. Chevrolet advertised its Corvette at a special price but didn't explain the terms. You could have included a link instead to increase click-through rates.
7. Bad copy
Everyone has seen Facebook posts or tweets that lack any common sense. If writing isn't your forte, hire someone to write the content. Otherwise, it makes a company look stupid and can hurt their sales.
8. Misrepresentation is the worst
Not portraying different groups in the right light means unhappiness for all. When Miele posted for International Women's Day, they featured an image that undermined the 1950s stereotype of housewives. It was neither empowering nor classy. In fact, they deleted it.
9. Focus on a selected image
Sometimes companies neglect to set up a featured image for their articles. Or they don't pay attention to what this picture is. When they then share it online, it distracts from the content of the piece. One brand did this with a message, but the featured image was the author.
10. Double check, then triple check
Car sales coach Alan Ram died tragically in a plane crash. He had a regular segment on a show with a fiery setting. An unfortunate coincidence, but CBT News should have changed the background before showing his picture while declaring his death.
How to recover from a social media PR disaster?
Sometimes brands post broken links or their jokes fall flat. But there are 5 big mistakes: the early release, the wrong reward, the hack, the inappropriate opinion and the insensitive statement. Never post content that misrepresents the company, mocks serious issues, or makes false promises. Recovery can take time, but the first step is to apologize. Try to humanize the brand and be open and honest. Then stick to safe content to restore trust. Consumers are more likely to respond positively to companies that choose transparency. It certainly doesn't help companies to cover up their mistakes.
Should a company share negative experiences with others?
Yes. Consumers expect transparency and honesty. Companies that admit their mistakes as quickly as possible have a greater chance of being redeemed. When negativity shows up in a company's feed, they should leave it there and respond appropriately. Deleting them provokes the audience and brings more backlash. Don't sweep anything under the rug! Sharing a negative experience shows that there are real people behind the brand. Stay true to the apology and explain how the company is working to make things better. The crowd is not guaranteed to be 100% forgiving, but they will appreciate the effort you put into making things right.
Summary of the rules for digital marketing
The key takeaway here is if something is wrong, don't share it. Brands in particular need to be careful about what they post. Having multiple people run it is a great way to get different perspectives on it. Use this list as an example of what not to do. And when mistakes happen, deal with them openly and honestly. For even more organization, try aSocial media automation toolor planner. After all, when in doubt, play it safe.
Do you know any of these mistakes or has your brand done something similar? Jump in in the comments below, or share a time when you witnessed an epic online blunder.
Published: July 04, 2019Updated: July 24, 2020
Matt is an experienced technical writer and translator gifted at writing well-targeted content for a variety of audiences. He has a diverse background including social media management of various products. He is a data-driven strategist and a passionate storyteller. He posts about all social innovations and provides our readers with quality research and content.
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What common mistakes do businesses make when using social media? ›
- Not Having a Social Media Marketing Strategy. ...
- Posting Less or Posting More for Reach and Engagement. ...
- Not Defining Your Target Audience. ...
- Failing to Engage in Conversations. ...
- Not Acknowledging Mentions. ...
- Relying too Much on Automation.
Not responding quickly, especially to complaints.
“When you create a brand presence on social media, especially on Facebook or Twitter, your customers are going to come to you there for customer service, whether you offer it or not,” says Miller.
One inappropriate tweet from a CEO, employee, or client can go viral, and ruin the reputation of the company. A negative reputation from inappropriate social media use can have a negative effect on the company's revenue, brand value, trust, goodwill, and ethical reputation.What are the 5 biggest problems with social media? ›
- Online vs Reality. Social media itself is not the problem. ...
- Increased usage. The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate.
- Social Media is addicting. ...
- Fear of Missing Out. ...
- Self-image issues.
The business risks of using social media include not being able to control messaging about your company, damage to the reputation of the company (e.g., negative reviews), improper disclosure of financial or other information affecting the stock or other value of the business, and the costs and distractions involved in ...What is the biggest negative effect of social media? ›
Social media harms
However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.
Instagram: Instagram is consistently linked with poor mental health outcomes. It has the biggest negative impact on mental health of any social media platform. This has a lot to do with what people share on Instagram.Why do most companies fail at social media? ›
They don't understand their audience – not really.
Even before you start a social media marketing campaign, long before selecting a campaign objective. If you cannot get into the shoes (in fact, into the skin) of your target audience, your entire campaign will fall flat on its face.
Posting too frequently - or not frequently enough.
It becomes too much of a good thing and your followers' eyes glaze over as they scroll quickly past your latest post - perhaps thinking, "Oh, no!
The biggest social media mistake you can make is to neglect your photos and to post low-quality ones. As a business, you have to be as professional as possible, and your images and your attention to detail on Instagram, and not only tells a lot about your brand.
What are 2 negative impacts social media can have on a business? ›
Reduces Employee Productivity. Increased Risk of Cyber Threat. Reduces Confidentiality and image of the company. Losing Privacy at the Workplace.What are the 6 dangers of social media? ›
- cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology)
- invasion of privacy.
- identity theft.
- your child seeing offensive images and messages.
- the presence of strangers who may be there to 'groom' other members.
- Inadequacy about your life or appearance. ...
- Fear of missing out (FOMO) and social media addiction. ...
- Isolation. ...
- Depression and anxiety. ...
- Cyberbullying. ...
- Self-absorption. ...
- A fear of missing out (FOMO) can keep you returning to social media over and over again.
- Lacks Emotional Connection. ...
- Gives People a License to be Hurtful. ...
- Decreases Face-to-Face Communication Skills. ...
- Conveys Inauthentic Expression of Feelings. ...
- Diminishes Understanding and Thoughtfulness. ...
- Causes Face-to-Face Interactions to Feel Disconnected. ...
- Facilitates Laziness.
- It can contribute to social isolation.
- It can be used as an effective tool for bullying.
- It is often used to snoop on others.
- People who use it are more likely to social compare themselves to others.
- Presents a false idea of “friendship”
- Research has shown that it can increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Companies face a variety of business risks that can threaten their ability to achieve their goals if these risks are not monitored and navigated properly. ...
- Financial Risks. ...
- Compliance and Legal Risks. ...
- Cybersecurity Risks. ...
- Operational Risks.
Sexting, predators, cyberbullying. All are damaging, more common than you think, and should be discussed. However, we can't ignore or minimize the more subtle, everyday dangerous things kids are doing online.What personal information should you not post on social media? ›
To help protect your personal information from identity thieves or other fraudsters, don't ever post: Usernames or passwords to anything. Pictures of debit or credit cards, paychecks or any financial account numbers. Your Social Security number.What are three negative effects of media? ›
- Not enough sleep. Media use can interfere with sleep. ...
- Obesity. ...
- Delays in learning & social skills. ...
- Negative effect on school performance. ...
- Behavior problems. ...
- Problematic internet use. ...
- Risky behaviors. ...
- Sexting, loss of privacy & predators.
Researchers believe that since social media competes for your attention with the promise of continuous new content, heavy social media users become less able to ignore distraction in general, which leads to poorer cognitive performance and shrinks parts of the brain associated with maintaining concentration.
What can you replace social media with? ›
- Create a vision board of all the things you want to call into your life.
- Write or draw in a bullet journal.
- Start a side hustle.
- Learn a new language.
- Find a new hobby.
- Do a deep breathing exercise.
- Sleep in.
Global social networks ranked by number of users 2023
Market leader Facebook was the first social network to surpass one billion registered accounts and currently sits at more than 2.9 billion monthly active users.
Lastly, Snapchat is the least popular out of the platforms studied, with only 1,830,000 average monthly searches across the US.What is the most successful social media company? ›
1. Instagram. Instagram has well surpassed 1 billion monthly users, which is no surprise considering how the app blends the personal and professional with each new feature. If you're wondering whether a meaningful segment of your audience spends time on the platform, the answer is most likely a resounding yes.Do companies actually look at your social media? ›
It has become an increasingly common question among job applicants: Do employers check social media? The answer: Yes. In fact, 70% of them do, according to a CareerBuilder study.What social media do companies use the most? ›
As of January 2022, Facebook was the most commonly used social media platform among marketers worldwide. According to a global survey, 90 percent of responding social media marketers used the network to promote their business, while another 79 percent did so via Instagram.What are toxic post in social media? ›
Toxic social media trends
This is a form of social media bullying or harassment where one user stalks another to gain incriminating or personal information from another with the intent of using it to hurt them personally or professionally. Sometimes it's not just negative things that are toxic.
- Negative Posts About Customers or Clients.
- Irrelevant Viral Content.
- Political or Religious Posts.
- Content That Isn't Properly Proofread or Edited.
- Attempts to Capitalise on Tragedy.
- Too Much Overtly Promotional Content.
- Misleading Posts.
- Unattributed Content.
Never post personal information, including your Social Security number (not even the last four digits), birthday, place of birth, home address, phone numbers, or personal account information. Any of these can be used to open bank or credit card accounts – or even loans – in your name.What is the 10 4 1 rule? ›
The 10:4:1 rule is a simple way of setting a format for the style and types of content you will release. The basics behind the 10:4:1 rule is that for every fifteen posts on social media, ten will be of other industry expert's content, four will be your own content, and one will be a call to action.
What are people's biggest mistakes? ›
- Mar 29, 2022. ...
- Not saving, investing for the future. ...
- Holding on to an incompatible partner because of societal pressure. ...
- Committing yourself to the wrong career. ...
- Overworking and ignoring other aspects of life. ...
- Not paying attention to your health, letting go of the yearly check ups necessary.
The disadvantages of social media usage include addiction, cyberbullying, the dissemination of fake news, and a direct impact on brand reputation.What is the negative impact of social media marketing on business? ›
One of the biggest negatives of social media marketing is the security and privacy-related issues. When you're using social media platforms for advertising, you basically need to surrender your information, both public and personal, in order to get the most out of your marketing effort.What are some examples of misuse of social media in the workplace? ›
Some examples include: 4 Sending an offensive email from a home email account to an employee of an important customer. 4 Making serious sexist remarks about a manager on a Facebook status update in circumstances where the employee has many colleagues who are “Facebook friends” and the manager is readily identifiable.What are examples of employee misuse of social media? ›
Another common scenario is employee social media usage while at work. Other situations may include employees posting negative comments or distasteful photos or videos, or calling in sick and then tweeting about being out and about.Why social media should be blocked at work? ›
By banning it, that reduces risk. Social media can be a source of other risks, such as computer viruses that come via links on social media sites. Allowing access increases the risk of an employee infecting a work computer with a virus.Is social media damaging our workplace mental health? ›
Data were collected from 120 working adults, and it was concluded that there is a negative correlation between the use of social networking sites and psychological wellbeing.What should businesses avoid when using social media? ›
- Only Posting Advertisements.
- Not Engaging Enough.
- Not Posting Enough. ...
- Posting the Same Content on all Social Media Sites.
- Paying for Followers.
- Ignoring your analytics.
- Using too many hashtags.
- Not being social.
- Posting without a strategy.
- Not using the newest features.
- Not using tracked links for attribution.
- Posting landscape content.
- Ignoring trends.
Negative Comments About Customers or Competitors
Most people aren't logging into social media looking for negativity either. We tend to surf social networks as a reprieve from the day's events, wanting stories that inspire or entertain. Brands that roll out negativity will quickly lose traction.
What are 3 negatives of social media now? ›
However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure.What are the biggest dangers of social media? ›
- cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology)
- invasion of privacy.
- identity theft.
- your child seeing offensive images and messages.
- the presence of strangers who may be there to 'groom' other members.
Share only photos and videos that you've taken or have the right to share. As always, you own the content you post on Instagram. Remember to post authentic content, and don't post anything you've copied or collected from the Internet that you don't have the right to post. Learn more about intellectual property rights.What not to do on Instagram for business? ›
- Posting low-quality content.
- Using too many hashtags.
- Posting salesy content.
- Posting personal opinions and views.
- Ignoring customers' comments and DMs.
- Making negative comments about competing brands.
- Posting exclusionary content.