Social Media #Fail

Mishaps and Blunders from Around the World

By Czarina Cabuyadao

The Hoffman Agency Singapore

My personal rule on any of my social media sites: do not post anything you will regret later. Ever since I registered for my first social network (Friendster, circa 2003), I’ve been quite strict with this rule.                                                                                         

Today, social media has gone from personal networking to one big self-advertisement. We often underestimate it, not realizing its power until we’ve already hit that “post” button.

Social media blunders happen all the time, and come from all industries, but there are the unlucky few that will go down in infamy. Fortunately, for those public figures and businesses that remain unscathed, the incidents below become case studies that we all can learn from.

First up: tasteless and insensitive tweets following a natural disaster or taking advantage of political uncertainty.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was sacked by Aflac after tweeting the following one-liners following the tsunami in Japan last year:


Gottfried tweet

Gottfried tweet


Although the tweets were deleted, Gottfried followed them up with the statement, “I was born without a censor button. My mouth and now e-mail will continue to get me into trouble.”

Kenneth Cole angered the Internet with its tweet about the protests in Egypt, which many felt made light of the situation. Realizing the gravity of the tweet, the company chairman and chief creative officer issued a 140-character statement apology.


Kenneth Cole Tweets


 “Too much information” or “out of control” tweets are posts that have gone wrong and sometimes, all it really takes is one tweet. Because of the nature of social media, mishaps can easily be shared and news spread globally in a matter of minutes. Remember the following?

Chrysler and employee outrage. In 2011, an employee working for Chrysler’s social media agency, New Media Strategies, tweeted an update that angered consumers and Chrysler. Chrysler responded quickly by deleting the tweet and apologizing profusely. Needless to say, Chrysler did not renew its contract with New Media Strategies and the employee who wrote the tweet was fired.


Chrysler tweet


U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner and his short-lived Twitter campaign. Dubbed the “Weinergate” scandal, the congressman tweeted a lewd photo to a college student. He initially claimed that his account was hacked, but eventually resigned from office apologizing to his wife and constituents.

The list goes on for social media gone wrong. For companies or public figures, these incidents should be used as a learning curve. Damage control is possible, but avoiding social media disasters comes down to a few important rules we all need to follow.


  • Be honest in your online communications and activities. Open lines of communication within the social media team is a must. Discussions on social media approach, content creation and standard operating procedures (SOPs) are basic elements. Social media blunders have proven that dishonesty will be discovered and does more harm than good.


  • Create guidelines to follow and provide training. Feedback and discussions are crucial. This helps the social media team understand what they can and cannot do. The root of social is building relationships. More than clicking post or send, we need to establish trust with the audience.


  • Continually monitor your online reputation. You need to know what’s being said about both your brand and business. This will help you to react immediately when it’s necessary to do so. In case of any disaster, act quickly and be transparent in your response.


Always remember that the Internet is unforgiving. With the tremendous impact of social media in our lives today, be prepared to get re-tweeted, screen capped or shared in the virtual walls of shame. Regardless of whether you are posting on your personal account or professional account, preventing mistakes should be a priority when things go wrong … let’s just hope that things don’t go wrong. 


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