Browser’s Favourite Fails of 2013

Here is a yearly round up of all the social media mistakes that will make you think twice about hitting the send button.

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With so many social media faux pas to choose from the Browser Media team has chosen their favourite fails of 2013, so here are a handful that caught our eye.

Ashleigh: British Airways

“This was an interesting story to watch unfold. I’m surprised that such a large company in such a competitive industry hadn’t grasped the idea of 24-hour social media and formatted responses”

Back in September we commented on the British Airways customer service palaver (my five) where we saw Hasan Syed take his customer complaint one step further by using a promoted tweet to highlight his lost luggage. The tweet was seen by more than 76,000 Twitter users.

So where was the social media fail? Well, with the original tweet posted outside of customer service hours, British Airways didn’t respond until eight hours later. Something which should have been nipped in the bud straight away was left in the public domain for far too long. But what was even worse was the response. When it did eventually arrive the standard response ‘sorry for the delay in responding…DM your baggage ref and we’ll look into this’ didn’t go down so well.

Ali: Tesco

“I wasn’t sure if this was genuine or a publicity stunt, nevertheless it was funny”

The horsemeat scandal was one of the biggest stories to break this year. Tesco was one of the big brands to fall foul to including horsemeat in just under a third of their Everyday Value burgers. It must have been a huge (and unfortunate) coincidence that Tesco’s social media team had scheduled the tweet before the horsemeat scandal broke. A prompt apology was issued. Judging by the vast amount of retweets and favorites, I think most people thought this was just funny rather than insensitive.

Matt: Home Depot

“Putting trust in your agency is a big deal, preferably one where you don’t have to double check everything that they do”

In November, the American retailer Home Depot was left with egg on its face after they tweeted a picture of two of their African-American employees and a person in a gorilla mask with the caption “which drummer is not like the others?” Unsurprisingly Twitter users took huge offense to the tweet and an apology was released soon after. Home Depot subsequently fired the social media agency that posted the tweet.

Tom: Susan Boyle

“Oh hey! A new Susan Boyle album! And a sweet party too…oh wait, what? NO, Susan! I don’t want one of those at all!”

By all means use a hashtag in a social media campaign but before you press the ‘tweet’ button, check, check and check again. If you are going to use multiple words together for a hashtag, type the words first and check that they don’t mistakenly spell a word or phrase that will leave you red in the face. The same goes for any copy you’re releasing on the internet – one slip on the keyboard and a word could give your sentence a whole new meaning.

Sophie: Amy’s Bakery

“Remember the classic saying ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all’, this definitely applies to Amy.”

If you’re in the hospitality industry (or any industry for that matter) and steal tips and fight with customers, don’t go on the international TV show Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and publicly display your faults. Inevitably, viewers went straight onto Twitter and Facebook to share witty comments about the TV show. The real social media fail came in the form of Amy’s Baking Company’s response which only added fuel to fire. If you face some backlash, for whatever reason, take the time to compose a well thought-through reply.

Alex: The Plough Pub

“If you’re going to treat any of your employees nicely – make sure it’s the guy in charge of your social media”

The most recent blunder comes from The Plough pub in Oxfordshire earlier in the month. The head chef was left rather disgruntled and without a job after he was denied time off over Christmas. He decided the best way to vent some anger was to take to the pub’s Twitter account in a blaze of social media glory to announce the decision through a series of sarcastic tweets. The chef still had the password to the pub’s Twitter account and in doing so appears to have found himself another job. He tweeted from his personal account “I have very kindly been offered a serious job offer directly off the back of this Twitter storm. More info to follow x”.

Joe: British Gas

“To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: To lose one social media campaign may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose all looks like carelessness.”

Back in October Sophie covered British Gas and the Social Media Snafu. British Gas launched an absolute whopper of a social media campaign which was doomed from the beginning. It all started with #AskBG Twitter conversation which opened the door to an onslaught of negative comments. This was followed by a hosted discussion on the same day they announced a 9.2% price increase. Unfortunate timing and something that didn’t go unnoticed. If that wasn’t enough social media misfortune for one day, a sponsored Ad on Facebook shortly followed with a ‘committed to keeping Britain warmer’ message and understandably didn’t go down well.

Katie: Ryanair

“As this has come from a man whose airline charges you to take your suitcase on holiday with you, he’s clearly a smart (but greedy) cookie, so I suspect that this could have been devised inside the mind of a devious (and brave) PR agency somewhere.”

Owner of Ryanair and probably the most disliked boss in the aviation industry, Michael O’leary took to Twitter to answer questions from the public. This was in fact an attempt to become a more likable person and change the image of the budget airline. Unfortunately and more unsurprisingly, this wasn’t the reaction he received. What did he expect when his Twitter cover photo is a picture of scantily clad women photoshopped in front of a branded aeroplane? Some of the most outstanding quotes included “Sadly ladies are too smart to buy swimsuit clad men so wouldn’t raise any money for charity” and “Have always opposed charging fat people more, and am also against giving skinny discounts. We welcome all”.

Annie: Nokia

“We’ve all thought it at one point or another about social media. We’ve just never thought it was a good idea to tweet it from a global company’s Twitter account”

I’ll leave the final word with Nokia who seem to have given up on social media completely.

A common theme of these fails is the social media platform itself, Twitter. Lets hope these companies have learnt from their mistakes, as we certainly have. Here’s a last thought to leave you with is it all just a PR stunt? Safe to say I am ready and waiting for the next big brand slip-up.


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