It’s 2018, and almost every brand is now active on social media. A prominent social media presence means more visibility, and engagement with your biggest fans, but it also means more opportunity to screw up in front of millions of followers. Unfortunately, nothing goes unseen on the Internet.
Virtually every typo, every faux pas, every poorly-chosen meme gets retweeted and/or screenshotted to be shared widely and mocked. It can be easy to go viral for the wrong reasons - and as such, brands should never send off any tweets until they’ve gone through a proper approval process.
If there is anything to learn from 2018’s biggest social media fails thus far, it might be: "proofread, proofread, and then proofread again."
Here are some of the top social media fails by brands of 2018 thus far:
When Snapchat posted an insensitive Quiz about Rihanna
In March 2018, Snapchat ran an ad for a game called “Would You Rather” which asked users to choose between 'slapping Rihanna' and 'punching Chris Brown'. Snapchat users were shocked by the app seemingly mocking domestic abuse which Rihanna suffered at the hands of Chris Brown in 2009, when he reportedly punched her during an argument.
Rihanna was furious and took to her Instagram Story to shame Snapchat for its error. Snapchat pulled the ad and publicly apologized, but the damage was already done. Thousands of users uninstalled the app after Rihanna called for them to delete it in protest.
When Lockheed Martin got shut down hard on #WorldPhotoDay
Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest arms manufacturer, and a top American defense contractor. In August 2018, the company asked its followers to share “an amazing photo of one of our products” for #WorldPhotoDay, which received intense backlash via tweet.
One user posted a photo of a fragment of a bomb used to destroy a school in Yemen, others shared pictures of bloodied backpacks of the children that never came home due to a Lockheed Martin bomb. Lockheed Martin quickly deleted the tweet, but activists continued to post photos mocking the overly joyful Twitter account of a massive arms manufacturer.
When a Chicago News Station accidentally referred to Pyeonchang as 'P.F. Chang’s'
During the February 2018 Winter Olympics, a Chicago News station posted this photo on its live news broadcast as the hosts discussed the upcoming Olympics. The editor was clearly confused between the Asian restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s and the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.
When YouTube creators tweeted the wrong flag for the Fourth of July
Using national holidays in your a marketing can be a great idea - so long as you hit your target audience. The 'YouTube Creators' Twitter account posted this patriotic tweet before the 4th of July 2018, only to finish it off with the Liberian flag.
It seems that no one was overly upset about the gaff, but it didn't go unnoticed. Remember: you should even double-check your emojis before posting anything on social.
When Chick-Fil-A really needed a map
This popular North American fast food chain got a bit confused when a Twitter user asked it to open a new store in Alaska. Although Alaska is not part of the continental US, it is definitely a part of North America.
While engaging with your audience is crucial to growing a social media presence, accuracy is more important than a speedy response.
When the US Air Force tried to make a Yanny/Laurel joke about drone attacks
This post is pretty high on the list of most tone-deaf tweets of 2018. In May 2018, a controversial sound clip made waves around the internet as listeners were split between people who heard “Yanny” and those who heard “Laurel.”
The US Air Force blindly jumped on the viral soundbite with this insensitive tweet, which quickly received pushback from Twitter users around the world for making light of civilian casualties due to bombings in Afghanistan. The Air Force promptly deleted the tweet.
When IHOB’s new logo looked too similar to a familiar tampon brand
In early 2018, the International House of Pancakes announced that they would be rebranding from IHOP to IHOB, after 60 years. They've not yet announced what the 'B' stands for in this context, however several social media users quickly noticed some uncanny similarities between the new logo and the logo for tampon brand o.b.
Women on social media were quick to chuckle at the mix-up, recommending that IHOB consider a new logo, lest they want to elicit laughs from their female customers.
Social media can be a highly effective way to get in touch with your customers, but it can also backfire. Having a large audience means even the smallest error is unlikely to go unnoticed. As such, make sure you review all your social media posts with a content approval process before they get sent out. A typo might get laughed away, but an insensitive post can live forever in your customers’ minds.