It is worth noting here, starts talking Montse Cano, that once messages are on line, brands are no longer in control of them. This means that social media users are more prone to misunderstand messages that might have been written with other purposes. From a linguistic point of view, written words have no connotation. This means that we lack the rest of the elements that may help to fully understand a message, such as body language.

Today, we are discussing below some examples of social media gaffes. As you will see, it does not get any easier when major companies are involved.

Let´s start with a classic example of things that went really wrong and why:

Ragú

What happened?

They targeted influential male bloggers to ask them to check a video of mothers complaining about fathers not helping out with the cooking. See picture above.

The video turned out to be condescending and insulting, rather than a satire. So, it had the opposite effect. The men targeted told their followers that the company campaigned against dads.

What did they do to sort it out?

Ragú took very little time to respond to the many critics on social media, which they did not seem to be monitoring either, and which made things worse. In fact, brands are still struggling to keep high standards of customer service on social media.

On the other hand, some other bloggers asked themselves if their coleagues overreacted. After all, it can happen to anyone

Now, the opposite case where the company got a quick reaction.

American Red Cross

What happened?

An employee thought she was using her personal account when she tweeted about getting hammered or #gettingslizzard from the organisation´s Twitter account to their 500,000+ followers.

Social media gaffes

What did they do to sort it out?

They handled the issue head-on, but light-heartedly. First, they deleted the message within the hour, and published the following tweet:

Social media gaffes

Then, they used their blog to acknowledge the issue in a down-to-Earth, but funny way to reassure their followers and make sure that their image was clean. Lastly, and as things were gaining momentum, they partnered with the brewery mentioned in their first tweet to set up a donation site. So, both of them won exposure. Classy.

Gap

What happened?

Gap published the tweet below while hurricane Sandy was still active.

Social Media Gaffes

Users criticised  the message. They tweeted “Shameless”, and similars. However,it still had some re-tweets and people still favourited it!

What did they do to sort it out?

As a result, the tweet was deleted quickly, but responses were not addressed quick enough. The original tweet was still being re-tweeted hours after it was deleted.

They only published a semi apology on Twitter.

Social Media Gaffes

However, they were not the only ones to exploit hurricane Sandy.

One more social media gaffe:

Burger King

What happened?

An employee posted the picture below. The person on the picture is actually himself. He also posted it on 4Chan, where tech savvy users uncovered him using geo-localisation.

Social Media Gaffes

What did they do to sort it out?

The Director of Communication issued a statement acknowledging the incident. But, the public immediate reaction was that of why any employee would do such a thing. Sadly, Burger King is one of the few brands which is always in the news for similar cases or for offensive advertising.

Now, is BK´s response reassuring enough?

Have you got any advice or any good examples in your own market? Then, let us know below on comments or through our fanpage on Facebook!

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