If used correctly social media can be a boon to a company. The potential reach is enormous, the costs next to nothing, and impact impressive. On the other hand, if a social media blunder occurs the negative impact can be just as far reaching.
It is nothing short of a public relations nightmare when social media marketing goes wrong, so much so that some offending companies have never fully recovered. This is the danger of digital media, and the risks involved with being directly plugged into the public’s lives. These are some high profile blunders that are now notorious, standing as a warning to anyone that questions just how powerful social media can be.
If anything, these stories should serve as warnings on not what to do.
Cinnabon And Star Wars
When legendary actress Carrie Fisher passed away Cinnabon saw an opportunity. Social media was buzzing with the news, meaning that there was plenty of room to capitalise. All the Cinnabon social media team had to do was post a heartfelt message sit back, and enjoy a bit of free engagement. But no, someone, somewhere, wanted to take things further. An image was posted of an admittedly clever artwork, depicting a sticky bun as part of the iconic Carrie Fisher Star Wars hairstyle. The message accompanying the image read “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.”
The layers cake of mistakes here is daunting. Making a joke of the actress’s death, sneaking in a sexual innuendo, blatantly riding the social media buzz for engagement, the list goes on. This is, in every regard, an example of how not to use social media. Thankfully, after numerous apologies on the part of Cinnabon most angry Star Wars fans forgot about the blunder.
US Airways Disaster
One of the most baffling mistakes of all time, US Airways found itself in a nightmare scenario. Somehow, it still isn’t fully understood how, the company’s customer support team managed to include a link to a pornographic image in a Twitter exchange. The storm of horror around the incident can still be felt to this very day. Though, surprisingly, most on Twitter seemed either just confused or otherwise amused. It is an unforgivable mistake, but with the modern internet being what it is apparently virtually everybody understood that such things happen. What an odd time we live in.
Pepsi Marketing Stunt
This last one rides the line of social media success and if it were to be compared to Melbourne Cup betting odds it would be a 50/50 chance of a win. The Swedish Pepsi marketing team underwent an elaborate social media campaign. Multiple images of a voodoo doll were posted, each showing the puppet in a perilous position. Why was it big news? Because the doll was undeniably supposed to be Christiana Ronaldo. There was indeed some backlash, and Pepsi did apologise. But really, this is the sort of social media campaign that can be argued as a success. The buzz was enormous, football fans were paying attention, and most understood it was just a silly joke. Pepsi engagement went up; mission accomplished.