Social media wasn’t made for everyone — and when corporate big shots attempt to reach the next generation through it, there are going to be mishaps — even with “social media experts” on their side (do those even exist?). Some errors have been so irreversible that they resulted in an empty cubicle or the entire company plummeting down a black hole. These 10 companies must not have had the Social Media Gods on their side during these times, because their luck and timing, really sucked.
1. DiGornio tries to be clever with domestic violence #whyistay hashtag
Everyone is aware of the disturbing leaked video of former Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice beating his wife in an elevator. And it prompted the trending #whyistay hashtag on Twitter, which was a forum for women who survived abusive relationships. Pizza giant DiGornio thought it would be a good idea to join in on the trending topic — but got it really wrong.
After realizing what was going on, they quickly deleted the tweet and apologized.
A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.— DiGiorno Pizza (@DiGiornoPizza) September 9, 2014
DiGiorno released a statement apologizing again and said they were “personally responding to everyone who engaged with them on social media.” So far, it doesn’t seem like anyone got canned for the tacky tweet. But we bet they will research every hashtag from now on.
2. Kmart tries to cash in with a “Pray for Newtown” tweet
Kmart made a pretty big oops in 2012 when they sent out a tweet only hours after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton, Connecticut. It probably wasn’t the best strategy to use a promotional hash tag with a shopping code attached to it.
After followers freaked out, Kmart quickly tried to do damage control.
Attention all: We have decided to halt the remainder of today’s Twitter party due to the events in Connecticut. #Fab15Toys— Kmart (@Kmart) December 14, 2012
In light of today’s tragic events we have ended the Fab 15 Toy chat and we discourage any further use of the tag. Please pray for #Newtown.— Kmart (@Kmart) December 14, 2012
They told Business Insider, “We wanted the participants in the Twitter party we had just halted to see our message of sympathy. The way you do that is by adding the hashtag for the Twitter party. It was absolutely not used for any promotional reasons, but simply to ensure the participants of the Twitter party were able to see our message of sympathy.”
The real question though: what the hell is a Twitter party?
3. Home Depot tweets an extremely racist picture, instantly berated by the web
Home Depot made headlines in 2013 when an image they tweeted went viral. And not the good kind of viral. The image was tweeted during Home Depot’s coverage of ESPN’s College Game Day and their tour of the “bucket brigade,” which is a group of percussionists using the stores signature buckets as instruments.
It didn’t take long for Home Depot’s 200,000 followers to quickly let them know how messed up the image was, considering the implied racist context of it.
We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it.— The Home Depot (@HomeDepot) November 7, 2013
Home Depot did not release the name of the agency responsible for their social media during that time and promised the incident would never happen. Good news for the agency, though. At least they still might have jobs.
3. Chrysler tweets how they really feel about Detroit
For social media managers with multiple Twitter accounts, it can be pretty easy to send a tweet from the wrong account. It was pretty obvious this was the case for whoever was running Chrysler’s twitter account in March 2011.
It’s okay Chrysler— everyone was already thinking that. You were just the first auto company to publicly say it over social media.
Chrysler apologized to followers and decided not to renew its contract with New Media Strategies, dropping them instantly. The employee responsible for the mishap was also fired. Shitty day for everyone at the marketing company, but at least Chrysler managed not to get completely roasted by critics and the web.
4. Burger King’s Twitter gets hacked and it was the best thing to happen to them
Burker King’s Twitter account was compromised in 2013 and it might have been one of the greatest social media hackings ever. The hackers cleverly made the Burger King account look like McDonalds, with a few changes.
It was at least comical to watch as it unfolded. Especially for McDonalds.
Whoever infiltrated the account referenced several hacker groups including LulzSec, Anonymous and DFNTSC. It took the Burger King press office over an hour to acknowledge the hacking and to reset the account. They apologized to followers and “other members of the industry.” Lets be honest though — McDonalds was lovin’ it.
And they got 30,000 new followers during that hour so, it could be a win for BK.
5. The Onion calls nine-year-old actress Quvenzhane Wallis the C-word on Twitter
Satire king The Onion took it way too far with Quvenzhane Wallis during their live tweeting of the 2013 Oscars. The nine-year-old was nominated for “Best Actress” for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Onion tried to get away with this tweet during the live show.
Come on, Onion. You could have seen this one coming. The tweet was left untouched for an hour before they deleted it, letting it generate over 500 retweets. They felt the wrath though, especially from actor Wendell Pierce.
CEO Steve Hannah issued a rare apology to Wallis and the Academy for the tweet, saying “no person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire” and that Wallis is “young and talented and deserved better.”
You know its a bad when The Onion apologizes for a joke.
6. J.P Morgan tries to hold a Twitter Q&A and realizes quickly it was a bad idea
The bank experienced a tirade of abuse for a straight two hours in 2013 when they attempted their first Twitter Q&A with senior banker Jimmy Lee using the hashtag #askJPM.
According to Topsy, a service that analyzes tweets, about two-thirds of the 80,000 responses with the #askJPM hashtag were well, pretty negative.
J.P Morgan decided they suffered enough and quickly let Twitter know the Q&A would no longer be taking place, but once a hashtag is trending there is no going back.
Better luck next time, J.P. Morgan. Try and stay away from social media Q&A’s.
8. AT&T attempts to commemorate Sept. 11 on social media
In 2013 the phone company tried to keep in touch with followers during the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by tweeting an image of one of their phones capturing the twin towers beaming light into the sky. Heart was in the right place, AT&T but, they should have learned from Kmart’s mistake.
The company took down the image and apologized but the damage was already done.
We apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy.— AT&T (@ATT) September 11, 2013
The satirical hashtag #ATTTragedies began, theorizing how the company would try to make money with other tragic events.
The take home here for corporations: don’t tweet on any national holiday that involves tragedy, race or really, any tradition. Seriously.
9. Amy’s Baking Company goes completely off the deep end
The bakery was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show “Kitchen Nightmares,” and they really created a bigger nightmare for themselves. Instead of using the opportunity to turn around the bakery, they took to Facebook to call out the haters, in the most epic and absurd way.
And they didn’t stop, even though the whole Internet was laughing at them. They obviously didn’t understand that the force of Reddit is unstoppable.
They later issued an apology, of course via Facebook, stating that their “Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Website had been hacked.” Awkward.
10.US Airways tweets the most absurd airline-inspired nude
This will be a social media blunder that will live on forever, and in coming years will probably end up in public relations text books. In April 2014 US Airways was dealing with an irate passenger on Twitter and while attempting to smooth the situation over by sending the customer a form…a nude picture of a woman with her legs spread ended up being tweeted. With a model airplane, as you can see, going you-know-where.
US Airways quickly deleted the tweet…..
But they were too late. Let the memes commence.
Worst American Apparel ad ever #usairways— Eliza Bayne (@ElizaBayne) April 14, 2014
Right now CNN is on the phone with @USAirways. “I heard you found a plane?”— Michele (@inthefade) April 14, 2014
US Airways spokesman Mat Miller said the tweet “was an honest mistake,” and explained that the photo was posted accidentally in an attempt to flag the image that was tweeted at US airways, but the image somehow ended up being tweeted out. He also said no one would be fired. The ordeal is resolved now but, that image will forever be seared into our brains.