Social Strategy Failures: Learn What Not To Do On Twitter From The People Who Did It

For every wildly popular social media success, there is an equally fantastic social media failure somewhere on the web - probably more, actually.

For every wildly popular social media success, there is an equally fantastic social media failure somewhere on the web – probably more, actually.

Most social media failures don’t make the news (they’re failures after all, and by design are quickly forgotten), but those that DO are the true gems. They show us all what could have been had your bad idea crossed the border into Horrible Land.

And we have a few recent examples of Twitter hacks, fakes and all-around misguided tweets that took this fateful leap.

Is there anything worse than your Twitter account being hacked? Yup – faking your Twitter account has been hacked. MTV and BET did it and the response was not kind:

Annoying, right?

Chipotle’s social media team apparently didn’t think so – or didn’t know about that whole thing. They faked a Chipotle hack this week and accomplished something amazing: They made the whole thing that much worse.

Turns out, Chipotle faked its own Twitter hack as part of a publicity stunt celebrating the fast food chain’s 20th anniversary.

Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative, told Mashable,

“We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that. It was definitely thought out: We didn’t want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial.”

So it wasn’t just a goofy, stupid thing like MTV/BET – Chipotle is copping to it being a well-executed publicity stunt. And this was the best they could do? Sigh.

It’s hard to tell companies NOT to do this now because Chipotle’s fan base took the fake hack in stride, but this is not the result one should always expect. If you want PR, tricking your followers (so they then look stupid to THEIR followers for RTing your fake hack) is a bad idea and there’s a high probability that it will backfire.

Next up: Paula Deen. When one is under a microscope online, it’s best to lay low. Or you can keep tweeting along like nothing’s happened and suffer at the hands of quick-witted Twitter users:

Probably the WORST thing you could do though, is putting the words directly into their mouths.

Hoecakes. Beautiful.

The lesson here? Take good advice and lay low for a little bit, rather than fanning the flames. Social media will still be here when you come back in a week or two (and that’s a cautious estimate as the attention span online shrinks daily).

And finally, we have the royal baby hoopla, courtesy of PRNewser.

Unless you have something relevant to tie in to an event (like a video with babies when talking about a new baby), take that idea back to the drawing board – or throw it away.

If you need to force the comparison, you’re pressing your luck – and the limits of readers’ patience.

So if you can’t stay relevant, think of a way to create something adorable using cats. Everyone on the Internet loves cats.

Which annoys YOU more? These kinds of stunts/misguided tweets or piggybacking on a trending tragedy? Surely marketers have more ideas available to them than these?

(Image from Shutterstock)