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social media disasters

Social media has brought companies closer to the public than ever before. In some ways this is a good thing for brands, who can now respond individually to customers, but this does raise the possibility of something going wrong. I’m talking about social media disasters. When this does occur, and it has a lot, the public receive a full display of a professional business looking very stupid. This can be a vicarious thrill for thousands of customers, who will gleefully retweet a brand’s apparent idiocy on a global scale. Obviously, this is bad for business.

It happened a lot last year, and it’s going to happen again in 2013. Indeed, it has been happening merely three months into the New Year. So here are the worst offenders, and a guide on how avoid this dreadful fate.

Hackers Stun Burger King

McDonald’s had a number of social media disasters last year, but in early 2013 it was the turn for Burger King to face remarkable ignominy. Hackers breached the official Burger King account on February 18th and promptly changed the firm’s header and profile pictures to rival’s McDonald’s! They then busied themselves with posting about the latter fast food chain, whilst insinuating narcotic abuse was rife within the firm, as well as suggesting McDonald’s had just bought the Burger King brand. This went on for numerous hours until, finally, Twitter was able to wrest control of the account off the hackers before returning it to Burger King. McDonald’s tweeted their lack of involvement in the incident.

Despite the embarrassment, Burger King suddenly found they had jumped in followers by some 30,000!

So it’s not all bad news.

Disgruntled Staff Deride HMV

HMV have, very sadly, been in the wars a lot lately. The entertainment firm has been unable to fend off the recession, and this means they have had to effectively shut down. As staff began to be laid off, one went rogue and hacked into the official HMV twitter account. Instead of turning this into a profane rant, the staff member, thankfully, simply bemoaned the brand’s fate and wished everyone a fond farewell.

Although HMV removed the tweets many of them had gone viral. All the same the company apologised, “One of our departing colleagues was understandably upset. We’re still here thou, thx for supporting hmv thro these challenging times.”

Domino’s Disappoints

In early March the pizza outlet made a series of announcements which hinted at a “game changing” development for their menu and company. Teaser trailers were launched to drum up excitement, and CEO Don Meij made the big news declaration himself!

And then everyone realised this wasn’t as grand as had been expected; all they were offering was a new range of pizza toppings. Fans immediately took to social media networks to deride the company. As the example from the comments section on YouTube shows, they were not at all impressed.

The reaction may have surprised Domino’s as they hadn’t essentially done anything wrong, but in their enthusiasm they appear to have not realised they were being comically, and confusingly, flamboyant with their marketing approach.

Automated Airline Replies

If you think installing time saving auto-replies to your company’s personal Twitter account is a good idea, then heed the results of American Airlines’ effort.

After receiving some vitriolic abuse the firm’s automated system sent a delighted reply, thusly showing their laziness with customers. Soon many more were taking their opportunity to offload stress onto the firm, only to receive unusually merry responses. Their lesson has since been learnt.

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About Alex Morris

Alex Morris has worked as a copywriter and social media manager for a leading small business in the UK. He now spends his time reporting about the business and technology industries. He has been a business writer, and blogger, since completing an MA in Journalism in 2007.

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