Social media has revolutionised our world. Where would we be without the constant barrage of status updates, birthday reminders, and lists of anything and everything.
But social media can be a double edged sword. Use it wrong, and you might find yourself wishing you were back in 2004.
These 5 people are all examples of some epic social media blunders.
1. Mario Balotelli’s accidental anti-semitism
Mario Balotelli is one of football’s greatest gaffes. So it comes as no surprise that having his own Instagram account makes him a danger to himself. In December 2014, he posted a Supermario image which he believed was anti-racism… and ended up with a one match ban for anti-semitism.
The image’s text read, “Jumps like a black man, grabs coins like a Jew.”
Now, to put it in context, Mario’s mother is Jewish – which doesn’t excuse the post – but it does imply that the incident was, as he claimed, an innocent mistake.
2. Bill Cosby’s PR team encourages memes in the midst of rape allegations
Oh, Bill Cosby. Someone on your PR team needs to get a new job for this social media blunder. For some reason, they thought it would be a good idea to create a meme generator for the under fire actor – even as new allegations emerge each day.
In November 2014, his Twitter account posted the link with the words, “Go Ahead, Meme Me.”
Results were not what he wanted. Here are some examples:
3. PR manager creates Twitter firestorm – remaining oblivious for hours
Just before former PR executive Justine Sacco boarded her flight to Cape Town, she tweeted what was at the very least an ill thought out joke.
Needless to say, Twitter users were not impressed. And, unlike most disasters of this kind, she was unable to remove the tweet or respond – since her phone was out of use until after her flight.
She later apologised, admitting how ashamed she felt. But it’s unlikely anyone will be using her marketing expertise any time soon. Surely people in PR would know how to avoid social media blunders?
4. Epicurious uses the Boston Marathon bombing to promote their scones
In the wake of a national tragedy, it’s probably best for your brand’s image not to openly exploit the misfortune of others. Baked goods company, Epicurious, learned this lesson in 2013, after the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon. They cheekily suggested that citizens of Boston try cranberry scones, and other products.
They later apologised for tweets that “seemed” inappropriate; but only after further criticism did they delete the tweets and admit that they were unacceptable.
5. NRA’s badly-timed tweet
One major rule of social media life is that timing is everything. In 2012, America’s National Rifle Association screwed up big by sending out a tweet that read ‘Good Morning, Shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?
Problem was that, at that very moment, scenes were emerging from an Aurora theatre which a gunman had entered and shot and killed 12 people, injuring 70 others.
The NRA are lucky, in that they have major political and financial backing. For any of us plebs, a tweet like that could cost jobs, sponsorships and credibility.
These are just 5 of the biggest social media gaffes made by individuals and organisations. There are countless more examples, some which have been forgotten, some remembered for perpetuity. Over the next few decades, we can expect many more. Make sure that your brand isn’t among them.