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Social Backlash: 4 Social Media Disasters So Far In 2017

Social Media’s short history is littered with human-error and bad judgement, often resulting in failure and disaster. Sometimes all can be sorted with an apology, or even a bit of humour if appropriate, but often simple errors or failure to consider risks lead to fired staff, tarnished reputations and declining profits.

A little over halfway into 2017, what have been the social media disasters so far and what should you consider so that you don’t become the next?

1. Consider your team

Ask Eddie

Earlier this month beleaguered Southern Rail handed their twitter account over to a 15-year-old intern, Eddie. With angry customers complaining about a lack of services, Twitter hasn’t been a pleasant place for Southern Rail for some time. That briefly changed when Eddie’s first tweet announced:

“Hi, Eddie here! Here on Work Experience and ready to answer your questions! [smiley face]”

And the Twitterverse responded asking some of the most surreal questions possible and occasionally some related to trains, seeing #AskEddie trending. All credit to Eddie, he actually answered, researching where necessary and as a result became a hero, featuring on TV programmes and being offered further placements.

Eddie came out of his experience smelling of roses, Southern Rail less so. This could have gone horribly wrong, so always ensure your team is properly trained and supported in their social media activity. Your social accounts are a crucial touch-point with your customers and should not be left to interns to manage.

2. Consider the customer

Humorous Tweet about United Airlines

United Airlines have featured in some fairly high-profile failures feature on social media over the years, from Dave Carroll’s broken guitar in 2008, through the latest debacle of throwing a paying passenger off a flight.

When Dave, the musician with the expensive guitar broken by ground careless baggage handlers, took YouTube by storm with his song “United Breaks Guitars”, social media and our content creation options were a lot less mature. Since 2008 more passengers have become publishers using an ever increasing array of social tools available on their smartphones. So in April this year when passenger video footage showed Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from the Chicago to Louisville, the coverage was instantly available on facebook and youtube and the public outrage was instant.

Social media has raised the bar on customer service. There is no hiding place for poor customer treatment as this can be amplified through social channels.

3. Consider your text and tone

Adidas Boston Marathon email

Adidas’ recent social media disaster actually emanated from a branded email rather a social post, but the social backlash erupted on twitter.

The backlash was as a result of a poorly-worded email update which congratulated Boston Marathon runners for “Surviving” the race. In 2013, three people lost their lives and many were injured when bombs exploded at the finish line.

Always consider the text and tone of any of your content, whether in an email, website content or social posts. Always consider how your audience will receive and read it and sanity-check everything before it’s sent or posted.

4. Consider the risks

Walkers Crisps has had a successful track record in using both traditional forms of marketing combined with social to engage with their customers. Many new flavours of crisps have appeared on supermarket shelves having been successfully crowdsourced by their audiences.

Crowdsourcing itself can be a brilliant way to engage with product or service development with your social audiences. However, for every People’s Car Project and Eve-Tech laptop, there’s always a Boaty Mc Boatface. Walker’s latest social campaign fell firmly into this latter category, as it seems they failed to fully assess the risks and understand the culture of the social audiences that would get involved.

“Walkerswave”, which invited people to upload a selfie to feature in a socially shareable video with Gary Lineker, looked harmless on the surface but it soon fell foul of mischief-makers who uploaded pictures of criminals and dictators. Walkers initially took offensive pictures down and then conceded and closed the campaign completely,

Consider your skills and ability

These are only a handful of the social media failures that have happened so far this year. No doubt more will follow before we reach 2018.

Why not invest in you and your team and make sure you have the right skills and abilities to successfully use your social media channels by coming on our specialist Customer Service on Social Media course?



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