When used correctly, Twitter can be the perfect business tool. It allows companies to connect directly with their customers, sharing deals, answering questions, and solving problems immediately online. However, when used incorrectly, it can cause serious problems and a pr headache for a company. Here are some of the top corporate Twitter disasters of recent years.
Using trending hashtags can be a great way to get involved in the Twitter conversation, and there are ways in which it can be done successfully. However, it can also backfire spectacularly, as it did for Kenneth Cole. During the uprisings in Egypt in 2011, the fashion designer tweeted a plug for their spring collection, using #cairo, and quickly prompting widespread outrage online.
CelebBoutique had an even worse misstep last year, when they attempted to use the trending topic #aurora to promote an item on their website. What they did not realise, was that the topic was trending because of a horrific movie theater shooting in Colorado. The tweet was deemed incredibly insensitive, and brought a huge amount of negative attention to the business.
President’s Choice and American Apparel
It is not just misuse of hashtags that creates negative publicity. When hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, some companies attempted to take advantage in all the wrong ways. Grocery store chain President’s Choice took the opportunity to advertise a Halloween recipe idea, asking its followers “What’s scarier, hurricane Sandy or a beverage with marshmallow eyeballs?” Needless to say, it did not go down well. American Apparel had a similar faux-pas, by encouraging people who were “bored” by the storm to shop on their online store.
Chrysler and Red Cross
Not every Twitter mistake is intentional. Many Twitter accounts are run by employees who have accounts of their own, and occasionally this leads to some unfortunate tweets being sent from the company account. The Red Cross experienced this, when an employee tweeted about getting drunk using the company handle. They quickly realized the error, and fixed it with good humor. Chrysler, who have coined the tagline “imported from Detroit,” had a similar experience when an explicit tweet about Detroit drivers posted on its Twitter account.
Not every Twitter marketing idea pays off, as McDonald’s could tell you. In an attempt to generate conversation and fond memories, the fast food chain promoted #McDstories. Not long after it wa conceived however, the hashtag was soon full of bad experiences at McDonald’s, from both customers and employees alike.
McDonalds’ main rival Burger King has had Twitter woes of its own recently. The Burger King account appeared to have been hacked when the background and pictures were changed to McDonald’s images, and tweets were sent out stating that Burger King had been bought out by the rival chain, and claiming things such as employee drug use. Twitter was forced to suspend the account.
Former CFO of Francesca’s clothing store had a bad habit of tweeting things about the company before they went public. As it is a publicly traded company, this landed him in hot water, and he lost his job soon after.
About the Author: Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer whos specializes in the latest social and technology trends in business, specifically involving social media. She is currently acting as a social media consultant to Vivint. You can follow them on Facebook here.