The Biggest Social Media Fails of 2015: The Lessons They Teach Us

Even though many businesses have been using social media as a marketing channel for the past decade, the concept of social media marketing is still relatively in its infancy.

Unlike traditional print media, there is typically no approval process for social media before uploading content to the web.

As a result, there have been a number of social media fails along the way made by some of the biggest brands out there.

Fortunately, there are some important lessons that we can learn from these social media fails to prevent ourselves from tremendous embarrassment and a PR nightmare.

Here are some of the most notable social media fails of 2015 and some ways that your business can avoid making these same mistakes:

Blackberry’s iPhone Incident

For the past decade people have argued whether the Blackberry or iPhone is the better product.

However, earlier this year, Blackberry fans questioned their loyalty when the brand made a tweet from an iPhone.

The company apparently forgot that the auto-generated note “via Twitter for iPhone” would be attached to its tweet and visible for all to see in Tweetbot, Tweetdeck, and other Twitter platforms.

Lesson Learned: The lesson here is pretty straight forward. Don’t use a competitors product, especially in the social media world. Even though Blackberry quickly deleted the tweet, it left a lasting impression in consumers’ minds, and people are still talking about the incident months later.

The Seattle Seahawks Failed Attempt to Use a Trending Hashtag

There is nothing new about brands trying to use a trending hashtag on social media to their advantage; however, this is also an easy way for brands to get themselves into trouble.

In an effort to make a connection between football and MLK Day and embrace the trending hashtag #MLKDay, the Seattle Seahawks tweeted the classic MLK quote “We shall overcome” and a picture of quarterback Russell Wilson in tears after a tough victory.

As you can imagine, people were offended about the comparison of overcoming racial discrimination to overcoming a challenging football game.

Lesson Learned: This mistake is among the most common social media fails that businesses make. While it’s very tempting to jump on board with a trending hashtag, be sure to take the time to research how the hashtag is being used before using it yourself on social media. If your business is not really part of the story, don’t try to find a way to make the hashtag work. This can do more harm for your brand than good.

SeaWorld’s Social Media Campaign Backfire

SeaWorld earned a number of angry fans when the documentary “Blackfish” came out in 2013.

The documentary focused on the poor quality of care of whales and other animals/fish in zoological settings.

Fast forward to 2015, SeaWorld decided to host a social media campaign on Twitter called #AskSeaWorld in an effort to regain the trust of its fans.

While SeaWorld had the best of intentions, these angry fans chose to use the hashtag to question the integrity of SeaWorld rather than ask general questions.

Lesson Learned: Running a social media campaign around a hashtag is an effective way to encourage fans to engage; however, it’s absolutely critical that you consider all of the ways that a fan could interrupt and use a hashtag. Think of similar social media fails, like McDonald’s #McStories.  Ideally, you want to use a hashtag that will elicit a positive response from your audience.

Want to avoid these unfortunate social media fails? Consider having your social media accounts professionally managed.

Not only will this help to free up your time and allow you to focus on running your business, but you can feel good knowing that you have professionally trained social media experts growing your online presence.