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Things that make you go ‘NO’!: Global social media mishaps

We’ve all done it. Run a social media campaign in a market, measure its performance, iterate it and adapt it for other markets. But, what could we learn from others? Has there been global social media faux pas’ that we could all learn from as a business? Here within lays the issue we wanted to explore in this blog post.

Globally, one in every five minutes spent online is spent on social networks so it’s vital brands get it right – whatever market you target. With this in mind, we highlight some of the biggest social media mishaps from around the world. After all, learning from these mistakes could save you time, money and your brand’s reputation. To marketers and social media managers, the following examples may just give you a ‘face-palm moment’.

Kia, the Facebook ‘like’ backlash, South Korea

Korean car maker Kia suffered a severe negative backlash on Facebook when it ran a social media campaign to raise awareness for the charity World Vision. What started as a cause-related campaign turned into a catastrophic disaster with its online consumers in South Korea. In an attempt to drive awareness for the charity Kia posted an image of a tearful Sudanese child with the caption ‘1 like = 1 Day Food for 1 Family’ followed by an arrow that pointed towards the ‘like’ button. The incentive? To raise awareness and increase engagement for the cause in exchange for feeding starving refugees in war-torn Sudan. Unfortunately, Kia’s South Korean online consumers did not share their intent and were outraged by the image. More than 160 negative comments outlined disappointment towards the campaign’s image:

“You disgust me, fishing for likes on the basis of donating 1 day’s nutrition for a family per click.”

 

“Either donate or don’t, the emotional blackmail of ‘if you don’t click it will be one less family who will benefit’ is sickening.”

 

Lesson learnt: Think objectively before you apply the creative to an online campaign. Understand your target audience and what may be deemed inappropriate. Socio-economic awareness is vital but how you execute that message could make or break a brand’s reputation.

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Urban Outfitters and Gap, Twitter, USA

In 2012, USA fashion outlet Urban Outfitters thought it would be a good idea to piggyback off Hurricane Katrina when the storm hit US shores. Using the hashtag #ALLSOGGY this popular retail brand encouraged its online consumers to use the hashtag for free shipping. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go down well with consumers because capitalising on the misfortune of a natural disaster was considered distasteful and disrespectful. Sadly this wasn’t the only brand ‘inspired’ to tag on this natural disaster event. Major retailer Gap also promoted their online offering during the hurricane using the hashtag #sandy. Needless to say this disgruntled more than a few of their customers!

Lesson learnt: As a general rule of thumb it’s not ok to promote your brand through other people’s misfortune.

 

 

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Swedish Tourist Board, Curators of Sweden, Twitter

In a bid to raise the country’s profile, the Swedish Tourist Board ran a campaign called Curators of Sweden to allow its citizens to share opinions and recommendations. Why? So people would become interested in the country and what it had to offer. Each nominated citizen had seven days to access the account and add their influence to the tapestry of this highly advanced country. But in an attempt to increase positive engagement it quickly turned sour when one nominated Swede decided to discuss anti semantic views on the profile. This was shortly followed by a public apology issued from Tommy Sollén, Social Media Manager at Visit Sweden, who said:

“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint…Some of [the @sweden curators] have been talking about music, some of them have been talking about food….Sonja is more focused on her own brand of humour and asking probing questions.”

Lesson learnt: Ensure you have an approval process managed internally so as to ensure content is not offensive or off brand. Giving complete power to unknown sources leaves you in a highly vulnerable position.

In a bid to raise the country’s profile, the Swedish Tourist Board ran a campaign called Curators of Sweden to allow its citizens to share opinions and recommendations. Why? So people would become interested in the country and what it had to offer. Each nominated citizen had seven days to access the account and add their influence to the tapestry of this highly advanced country. But in an attempt to increase positive engagement it quickly turned sour when one nominated Swede decided to discuss anti semantic views on the profile. This was shortly followed by a public apology issued from Tommy Sollén, Social Media Manager at Visit Sweden, who said:

“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint…Some of [the @sweden curators] have been talking about music, some of them have been talking about food….Sonja is more focused on her own brand of humour and asking probing questions.”

Lesson learnt: Ensure you have an approval process managed internally so as to ensure content is not offensive or off brand. Giving complete power to unknown sources leaves you in a highly vulnerable position.

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NYPD, Twitter, USA

This year the NYPD took to the social media giant Twitter for their latest campaign, asking Twitter users to share photos of themselves and NYPD officers using the hashtag #myNYPD. We’re not quite sure what the NYPD thought would happen….

 

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The result? An influx of social media users hijacked the hashtag to share negative images of the NYPD to the wider Twitter community. A result the NYPD weren’t expecting from the campaign.

Sadly, this isn’t the only company to be a victim of hashtag hijacking. When negative virality happens, many have to spend weeks working with their PR agency to improve reputation and brand image.

Lesson learnt: In order to avoid your hashtag being hijacked, be very detailed in your selection and concentrate on the smallest specifications to guarantee you won’t be a target. Online hijackers tend to target accounts that appear to be automated and not managed by a real person. Be personal in your approach, this will add value to your relationships online and increase engagement with your followers.

 

Delta Airlines, Twitter, America

Unfortunately for Delta, the major international airline delivered the first social media World Cup controversy. Following USA’s 2-1 win over Ghana, Delta tweeted a post which featured two images; one which represented the United States with a photo of the iconic Statue of Liberty, while the second represented Ghana with a picture of a giraffe. Ghana has giraffes right?! No, Delta, no they do not.

The tweet made headlines due to one minor issue – giraffes don’t live in Ghana. The tweet went viral – but not the way that the airline would have hoped. Delta’s crisis management included deleting their tweet and issuing an apology.

Lesson learnt: Posts of an international subject should always be double checked as any mistake made online can be detrimental to a brand’s positioning and may insult many of its existing and potential customers. Remember to do your research before posting; it may save you and your brand public humiliation.

 

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