Bitter Tweet: The Top 6 Biggest Social Media Marketing Fails So Far in 2014

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Social media marketing is a great way to spread the word about your products and increase the likelihood of brand loyalty among your customers. Unfortunately, there's also a lot that can go wrong on social media if you're not careful. They say a wise man learns from his mistakes, but an even wiser one learns from the mistakes of others. Let's countdown the top six biggest social media marketing fails so far in 2014:

6. When Audi Disappointed Their Followers

The social media managers over at Audi thought it would be a cool idea to replace photographs of their famous, luxury vehicles with strange works of art. They asked their followers to send them stories about times they personally overcame adversity and punctuate them with #paidmydues. An artist, Alex Turvey, then “interpreted” the stories and created some pretty surreal stuff.

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Here's the thing though: people followed Audi on Instagram specifically to see pictures of their vehicles. While it's great that they wanted to do something new for a change and were encouraging interaction and engagement, they failed to uphold their obligation to consistency with their customers, and they lost some of them over it. What is there to learn from this? Find ways to get your followers involved while remaining relevant to your business.

5. That Time Mad Men Used Don Draper as a Model Father Figure

A holiday is a great time to advertise for your service or product—but only under certain conditions: one, that the holiday is not associated with tragedy or somber nostalgia; two, that your special offer is actually related to the holiday; and three, that your advertisement isn't in apparent opposition to the holiday. Guess which rule Mad Men broke.

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Mad Men's protagonist, Don Draper, is a father, indeed, but he's one who cheats on his wife, is hardly ever home, and is altogether dishonest with his family about his past—and these are just the things we learn in the first few episodes. Making him the poster child for Father's Day wasn't exactly the best idea they've ever had. The takeaway here is to not make big stretches while trying to connect with a holiday or other trending topics. People will not appreciate the inauthenticity.

4. When a Pub Decided to Broadcast Their Insensitivity

A pub in Hackney called The Bonneville had its grand opening in June. During the launch party, a man, bleeding from the stab wounds he received just across the street, stumbled into the pub requesting help. Annoyed at this man's potentially bloody death in their bar, they sent out this Tweet:

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To this Tweet, they added, “Some kid got stabbed over the road and decided to run into ours. Great look for our first week.” Seriously, guys? Could you be anymore insensitive? As you can guess, the Tweet was not received well. The best course of action here would have been to leave this news entirely off of their social media accounts.

3. That Time DiGiorno Joined a Hashtag They Didn't Understand

After a video, in which Ray Rice savagely assaults his fiancée in an elevator, went viral, many users wondered by Rice's fiancée didn't leave him after this attack. Beverly Gooden, Twitter user and former domestic violence victim, started the hashtag campaign #whyIstayed, in which she encouraged other victims to explain why they stayed and later why they finally ended the harmful relationship (#whyIleft). The social media managers at DiGiorno did not educate themselves about the message behind this trend before joining it:

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Needless to say people were pretty offended. To DiGiorno's credit though, they eventually did personally apologize to each individual user they send this image to. Lesson learned: make sure to thoroughly research and understand any hashtag conversations that you choose to partake in. Many hashtags begin to trend because they contain sensitive and/or dramatic content. Don’t be dubbed insensitive just because you weren’t practicing your due diligence.

2. When Build-a-Bear Used 9/11 as a Marketing Ploy

The social media marketers at Build-a-Bear decided it would be a good idea to use a mournful holiday, commemorating the lives lost in a horrific terrorist attack, in order to gain visibility on Twitter and advertise for their products.

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They broke the aforementioned Holiday Rule number one. Big time. Once again, think before you make connections with holidays. People do not appreciate companies who try to capitalize on tragedies.

1. That Time American Airlines Told a Customer Where They Could Send Their Complaints

Twitter user, @ElleRafter, Tweeted American Airlines (@USAirways), saying, “Unhappy that 1787 sat for an hour on tarmac in CLT because overweight, resulting in over hour late arrival in PDX...” American Airlines, understanding the value of social listening, responded with, “We truly dislike delays too and are very sorry your flight was affected.” After Elle sends another irritated Tweet, American Airlines responds with, “We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow up.” They meant to add a link to their complaint site, but instead accidentally sent an image so obscene that we will neither link to the photo nor describe it in this blog. The mistake occurred when the social media manager attempted to flag a Tweet with this inappropriate image, but accidentally copied the pic.twitter.com URL and pasted it in Elle's response instead. All we can say is: Look before you Tweet, guys. Look. Before. You. Tweet.

Those were almost painful, weren’t they? Luckily, since you read this, you won’t have to make the same mistakes! If you have any questions about the right way to engage with your followers on social media, visit our website at www.SocialCentiv.com. We would love to help you out!