Mind Candy

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The worst social media blunders – and what we can learn from them

Posted by mandyf on January 2, 2012

Who has run the worst social media campaign on the web? Was it a fortune 500 company, a young upstart, an individual or a true dark horse no one saw coming? Without doubt, we’ve seen brilliant social media campaigns grace the ether, but it was the really bad ones that are not only fun to take a jab at, but valuable to learn from. By identifying the mistakes that others made, hopefully we can avoid the same fate – although the minds at Mind Candy step in it regularly full aware they are doing it. Maybe some old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Without further ado, the worst social marketing bombs we love to laugh about.

Durex Condoms tweeted what was one of the stupidest things anyone can imagine. Obviously someone thought it was a funny joke given the hashtag it used, but to think it was remotely appropriate? Are you kidding me? Are they rockin’ the ganja? The tweet in question read:

“Why did God give men penises? So they’d have at least one way to shut a woman up.” #durexjoke

While Domino’s Pizza executives weren’t lining sandwiches with mucus, shoving cheese up their nose before putting it on a pizza, or doing any number of unspeakable acts to food being prepared for paying customers, they still dropped the ball. With over 1 million YouTube hits of a video depicting employees doing just that, Dominos hesitated. They acted 48 hours too late. Long after the first page of search results somehow became littered with content about the incident.

Sure they claimed it was a joke, made an apology video, a Twitter account and fired the guys in the video, but it was too little too late. Nobody bought that story. The video was taken off YpouTube, but it is still hanging around if you know where to look. The lesson is – if employees post a video that contains mucus, genitals, spit, or any body part/excretion coming into contact with food – act immediately! Don’t wait 2 days to start asking if it might be a problem – after a million potential customers have seen it.

Mars Candy really dropped the ball when they launched their new home page that scanned the web for content relevant to Mars products – namely skittles. The problem is, the feeds to their social networking accounts were not being monitored – and worse – were being automatically aggregated. Skittles has long been associated to a number of gay jokes thanks to their slogan “Taste the rainbow”, but that wasn’t the real problem. The problem is people were hateful about Skittles using offensive and graphic language to describe where Skittles could be placed and what people could do with them before, during and after said placement.

Again, it took 2 days for anyone to even notice it. Even then, no one did anything about it for a few more days, seemingly having a series of pow-wows to determine what they should do. Until they finally shut the page  down, they got pwned on their own corporate site mercilessly for days. For seeing the problem they created and then not having any idea how to respond, Mars Candy gets an epic fail.

Paul Cristoforo – what did he do right? He belittled paying customers calling the gent a baby and then he got weird. He started name dropping – although every name he dropped distanced them self from him immediately and the counter bashed him. He basically ruined a business and brand name in under 24 hours. Did we mention he just acted like an infantile asshole? To make it all worse, he defends what he did as valid PR because hey – he got a lot of attention! A job with a hairnet may be in his future over this one.

The Amsterdam Hospitality Group tried their hand at suing a company they did business with in the past – and then they stupidly tried publicize it all over the web. It was a stupid move because there was no need to announce it. It was stupid because they hired in someone that did nothing more than set up an automated network of Twitterbots to blast the URL out over and over. It was stupid because they them self were still in the midst of cleaning up a mess in which one of their auditors stole over $800,000 from the credit cards of guests that stayed at their hotels in NYC along with some of their personal information.

While that mess had just faded away, their publicizing filing papers against another company brought their whole theft mess back to light. Within a couple days, everything about their lawsuit had faded, but their thieving employee had them back on the top of Google – for all the wrong reasons. The lesson to be learned – don’t call others about having a messy backyard if yours is in even worse disrepair.

Qantas…geez…Qantas…. With travelers stranded everywhere thanks to a strike, what did Qantas do? They launched their contest asking passengers what their dream flight would be? That was how they chose to use social media at that very trying ugly time. Not to relax passengers. Not to reassure them. No. They chose to piss them off – and the responses went to show exactly where Qantas could put their dream flight.

Who could forget this tweet from Kenneth Cole when Cairo was going to hell in a hand basket – “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at ….”

This was in the worst taste possible – but it was compounded by their trolling hot hashtags like this with irrelevant sales crap no one cared about on multiple occasions. For that, they get a social media fail and asshat to wear as penance.

Netflix – Qwikster – nuff said.

Digg is just dying away, slowly digging it’s own grave. Digg used to be awesome – and it still could be, but their failure to listen to the hardcore users that formed the backbone of the platform has led to the atrophy being seen now. This is a social media fail because Digg IS social media, yet they seem too self absorbed and lost in some alternate Bizzaro world to stop and think for a second that the answer to stopping the share loss to Reddit, primarily, and maybe the answer to saving Digg can be found by using the social platform THEY OWN to ASK their members what is right and wrong? Way too difficult though, right?

GoDaddy + SOPA = FAIL! Anyone in their position supporting SOPA is just being foolish. It is a bad piece of legislation to be enforced by even worse keepers (so far as actual technical knowledge goes) to do something the web already does pretty well on its own – or that should be done by corporations worried about piracy making a better than half-ass effort to protect their product.

Yes we laugh at some of these foul-ups, but hopefully we learn too.  The mistakes of yesterday pave the way to the successes of today.


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