4 Social Media Fails

Social media is a funny thing. It can look like the most unhinged of environments, but it's a social environment where positivity reigns and idiocy gets exposed in a hurry. Speaking of which, here are 4 issues that you need to avoid on social media.


Social media mind

Social media mind

Understand the Hashtag

Hashtags are tags that can be used in Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and more. They let you know what the topic or theme of the post is. Unfortunately, some people forget to check what a hashtag's about. Either that or they just don't care. They see it trending and pile on.

DiGiorno Pizza jumped on #whyistayed in 2014. Maybe they thought it sounded innocuous, so they added their own touch. Just one catch: the hashtag was being used by women to explain why they stayed in abusive relationships. Then everyone jumped on them and DiGiorno spent a lot of time the next day apologising. In this case the contrition was so complete that it's easy to believe that it was a silly, but genuine, mistake.

It's more difficult to view Kenneth Cole's Twitter fail as a genuine mistake. Not only is it shamelessly self-promotional, it tries to highjack a serious topic to do it. #cairo was being used in connection with the Arab spring and the resulting violence. It's one thing to not understand how a hashtag is being used with respect to a single national issue, but if you're working in social media, there are no excuses for not knowing about a hashtag connected to revolutions.

To avoid making the same mistakes, visit Hashtagify.me, type in the hashtag you're thinking of using, and a mind map of hashtags will appear. This gives you an easy to understand visual context to each one, enabling you to understand what it's all about before you commit social media suicide.


Social media automation

Social media automation

Automated Posting

You're a human, not a robot. Whilst it's tempting to schedule everything you write using a platform like Hootsuite, you need to keep human eyes on your scheduled posts. What happens if something you've written is overtaken by events? If you've written a perfectly innocuous post about a country only for some great disaster to strike it, how will your post look when it goes out? Imagine how it'd look if someone you'd contracted to promote your product died and the posts went out anyway. We don't have to imagine because that's precisely what happened when Apple contracted Joan Rivers to promote the iPhone 6. What makes it worse is that the 'voice' of the text doesn't match Joan Rivers, making it a combined failure of social media and copywriting.

To avoid making the same mistake, keep a running log of scheduled, themed content and keep up-to-date with news on that theme. Doing that isn't a chore, it's like wearing a condom: how many times can you roll the dice before something goes wrong?

Stop Spinning

Imagine that you and your brand are under pressure. Naturally, you want to regain control, or at least stem the tide. The tide isn't so easily contained though. If the pressure's on, then the worst thing you can do is give the social media crowd enough rope to hang you. Countless people and organisations have failed to learn this lesson. The New York Police Department was just one of many. With a wave of complaints about the police all over the USA, the NYPD hit upon the idea of inviting people to use photos taken with the NYPD using #mynypd. That was April 2014. The hashtag is still going strong, though I doubt the bright spark behind it anticipated that it'd be used to report how an NYPD officer has been found guilty of assault and riot. Unfortunately, the latest use of the hashtag (at time of writing) is even more serious.

To avoid making the same mistake don't try to spin your way out. Put in the hard yards to regain trust. For a long time it'll feel like headbutting a wall, but it's the only way back that your audience or clients will see as genuine.

Don't gamble on social media, courtesy of  BufferSocial

Don't gamble on social media, courtesy of BufferSocial

Double Down

For the love of anything that you define as holy, when something goes wrong on social media, don't double down and try to bluff your way through. The social media world will call your bluff and absolutely hammer you. If you make a mistake, own up to it, delete the offending posts, and suck up the beating you're going to get, buttercup. We all make mistakes. We all get things wrong. Some people online get that and will appreciate you issuing an honest apology. DiGiorno took that approach.

Even if you don't think you've really done anything wrong, behave as if you have. Double down on big social media fails and you'll get carved up.