Social media marketing can have a powerfully positive effect on your brand. Marketing on the right platforms can help you generate traffic, attract new leads, increase visibility, brand recognition and thought leadership, build relationships with prospects and customers, and ultimately increase revenue.
Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, you could end up making a mistake on social media that might be difficult to bounce back from. You wouldn’t be the first or only culprit of a social media fail, though. Many other brands have come before you, and many others will come after you, like the ones described below.
The good thing is you can always learn from the mistakes that other brands make.
1. Be Careful What You Post
No one knows if US Airways was hacked, if an angry employee was getting back at the company, or if a marketing employee thought he was on his own account, but we can say that it’s always—always—a bad idea for a reputable company to tweet pornographic photos. In 2014, US Airways tweeted a picture of a naked woman with a little model airplane in a place where it just shouldn’t have been. Yep—believe it or not, that actually happened. Obviously, the company apologized for the shared link and said it would be investigating the issue, but it was too late. The Twitterverse was already in hysterics. The damage was done.
2. Q&As Aren’t Always a Good Idea
You might think that hosting a live question and answer session on social media would be a great way to engage with your audience. But if you’re not very well liked by the public, this could be a bad idea.
Popular music channel VH1 hosted a Q&A with one particularly controversial musician, Robin Thicke. And it didn’t go so smoothly. Sure, hundreds of people participated, but their questions weren’t really of the positive nature that VH1 was hoping for. Many were purely there to stir up some of Thicke’s controversies, like how his song “Blurred Lines” was written by someone else. Just check out the hashtag #AskThicke to see what Twitter users asked the controversial singer.
3. Inappropriately Trying to Capitalize on a Relevant Issue
Sigh. We’ve seen this too many times. A company thinks it’s being clever, but all it’s doing is being insensitive and inappropriate. In 2014, the relevant issue some brands tried to capitalize on was Ebola. Some even went so far as to try to market Ebola-themed merchandise on social media, including Halloween costumes. Really? Brands thought it was a good idea to try to make money off of a serious disaster that killed nearly 9,200 people? Yep. You think at least one person in the marketing department would have vetoed that idea. But I guess not.
4. Understand the Importance of Real-Time Marketing
A recent social media fail came during Super Bowl 50, when Beyoncé referenced restaurant giant Red Lobster in her new song “Formation.” The reference was racy—meant to portray the brand’s food as a reward for great sex. Beyoncé’s fans flocked to Twitter within seconds to check out Red Lobster’s response. But they were left waiting for eight hours. Whether Red Lobster was delaying responding because it didn’t know whether it should comment in a racy or more traditional way or because there just wasn’t anyone paying attention to the brand’s Twitter feed all day, all we know is that this brand failed when it came to real-time marketing.
5. Don’t Rely Too Much on Automation
Yep, even Apple is involved in a social media fail. In a pre-negotiated deal, comedian Joan Rivers was hired to promote the iPhone 6. Unfortunately, though, Joan Rivers died soon after. The PR mishap occurred when the scheduled posts still went out on the comedian’s Facebook and Instagram, nearly two weeks after Rivers passed away!