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The Worst Fails by Brands on Twitter

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for brands today. It’s a way to talk to consumers on their level, and for most businesses it’s a necessity in the world of commerce and content.

You have to keep in mind that there is a right and wrong way to present yourself online.

There are some brands that are so good at developing their social presence, it’s no wonder that they have a huge social media following. There are some tweets executed so well, they receive incredible amounts of engagements and tens of thousands of retweets. But then there are some brands who seem like they’re still learning the ropes of social media, and they end up failing spectacularly.

Here’s a look at some brands who made some Twitter mishaps – learn from them and avoid their mistakes!

DiGiorno Pizza

The hashtag #WhyIStayed was created as a way to express solidarity with Janay Rice, the wife of NFL Player Ray Rice, who was documented brutally punching her in an elevator. This hashtag became an avenue for domestic abuse victims to share their stories to the online world.

DiGiorno Pizza learned that if you’re going to insert yourself into a conversation you have to know what you are getting into. Not every trending headline or hashtag will be a good marketing opportunity for your brand.

The pizza brand has apologized and expressed that it didn’t know what the hashtag was about before posting said tweet.


Image credit: TechCrunch

What was supposed to be an innocent gesture from Entenmann’s, a sweet treat company, turned out to be a disaster. The brand was asking its followers how they feel about indulging in treats. Simple, right?

The problem was the timing. It was the day of the verdict of the controversial Casey Anthony trial, in which Anthony was accused of murdering her child and found not guilty.

Followers saw the tweet as something completely insensitive. Realizing their mistake, Entenmann’s quickly deleted the tweet and apologized. The company says the association with the Casey Anthony trial was unintentional, which also serves as a lesson to always research first before posting.


Image credit: Geekwire

Back in 2011, Japan experienced the largest earthquake they’ve ever been hit with on record, resulting in a tsunami. Many businesses were rushing to help the victims, but some philanthropic efforts, like that of Bing, appeared pretty self-promotional.

In cases like this, companies should always be careful and extra thoughtful to avoid backlash from followers who might see their efforts as selfish and self-promotional.

Seven hours after launching the campaign, they tweeted an apology and made the $100,000 donation to the Japanese Red Cross immediately.

Kenneth Cole

Image credit: TechCrunch

During the 2011 revolutions in Egypt, Kenneth Cole himself tweeted an insensitive joke about the uprising happening there using the trending hashtag #Cairo. Of course, capitalizing on death and riots for your brand didn’t amuse the Twitterverse.

Remember, humor can be used as a great tool for your marketing strategy to connect with your audience, but when your joke becomes insensitive or self-centered, prepare to crash and burn.

Kenneth Cole has deleted the tweet and posted an apology ontheir Facebook page, admitting that it was too soon for Egypt jokes.

Spirit Airlines

Image credit: Huffington Post

When some hackers were able to access nude photos of female celebrities and leaked them online, the reaction was swift, with many claiming it to be an outrageous act of misogyny.

Spirit Airlines tried jumping on the bandwagon with a promotion called “Bare Fare.” They even sent out an email blast entitled “Our Selfie leaked too” to all of their customers, of a nude sketch with a caption, “Our Bare Fare was Leaked!”

A spokesperson of Spirit Airlines told the Huffington Post that the campaign was launched months before the leaked celebrity nudes happened. However, this excuse was not accepted by the online world, who described their ad as shameless and unbelievably crappy.

MTV Australia

Image credit: Mashable

During the 2016 Golden Globes, actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria used their presenting spot at the awards ceremony to poke fun about the time when the awards ceremony confused them for another Latina actress. MTV Australia tried to get in on the joke, and tweeted asking for subtitles (despite the two speaking in English).

The tweet shocked Twitter users and was immediately criticized, with people saying that it was culturally insensitive. Though it was meant to be a joke, it was a poor joke, and eventually the tweet was taken down.

Total Beauty

Image credit: Racked

During Oscar’s red carpet, Total Beauty (a beauty company, obviously), tweeted about Oprah’s tattoo on her shoulder. The problem was that it wasn’t Oprah…it was Whoopi Goldberg.

It was also in a year in Hollywood when racial issues had been in the spotlight, and confusing two powerful African-American women in the media is not the best marketing move. The tweet was deleted but it was too late, as Twitter users were quick to call out the mishap.

Delta Airlines

Image credit: New York Daily News

If your brand is dedicated to flying people to different places all over the world, then it is your job to understand countries and at least a little bit of geography.

Delta Airlines sent out a tweet with good intentions congratulating the USA Team in the World Cup. Along with the tweet are a pair of photos. To represent the United States, the Statue of Liberty was used. Another image is supposed to represent Ghana, but there are, in fact, no giraffes in Ghana.

Twitter users were fast in reacting to the tweet calling it uninformed, racist, and ignorant. Delta quickly deleted the offending tweet and posted an apology.

Oprah Winfrey

Image credit: CNN

Oprah is known for her favorite things and she wasn’t shy about her love for the MS Surface. She tweeted that she bought 12 of the MS Surface tablets as Christmas gifts.

The problem was that she tweeted from her iPad! Of course, netizens quickly noticed and took the opportunity to have fun with it. This one wasn’t as bad as most of the others on our list, and no doubt Oprah is doing fine, but it’s still a funny example of what not to do.

Federal Student Aid

Image credit: PR Daily

One marketing step for your brand is to be aligned with pop culture, especially when you can incorporate humor. However, you have to be careful because jokes can easily appear insensitive, especially to your target market.

Student loan servicer FAFSA used a scene from the popular movie “Bridesmaids” to encourage students to file for student aid. It was a funny scene during the movie, but it wasn’t received well by their Twitter followers, many of whom are burdened by tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. The tweet has been taken down and FAFSA issued an apology.

Watch Your Step On Twitter!

Social media isn’t just a place for brands to talk to their customers. These days many consumers get a large portion of their news on social media platforms like Twitter.

Tweets and posts on Twitter can travel to different platforms in minutes – that includes any mishaps you might make. Expect immediate criticism and disapproval if you post something that doesn’t meet the standards of the Twitterverse. Even though many of the tweets we talked about were honest mistakes, they still suffered the backlash.

There are a lot of ways to stand out and become memorable on Twitter, besides just hurting your reputation in a glorious way like these brands. Remember, you can buy Twitter Followers and other signals of engagement to boost your social proof quickly, getting a headstart online.

Always keep in mind that you’re not just promoting yourself or solving customer solutions online, you’re actually performing for an audience – and the better your performance, the more you’ll be able to sell.

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