Full of Fail: 5 of the worst social media marketing fails of 2013 so far

I’ll be honest – Twitter isn’t my forte. I find Facebook much more ‘me-friendly’, so I can well and truly sympathise with those that regularly fail on social media.

However, the truth is that large companies shouldn’t really be failing. These companies’ social media departments are managed by competent, educated people, all of whom have (or should have) lots of experience in creating comprehensive social media strategies.

So, if that really is the case, how – I repeat – how did some of these fails happen?

Take a look at these five cringers from 2013 so far:

  1. HMV

Back in January, the staff managing HMV’s social media department started to tweet about their impending redundancies.

In total, 190 redundancies were made throughout the company when the brand went into administration, while around 140 stores were closed across the UK.

Staff weren’t willing to leave without a fight though, and took to Twitter to spill the beans. Aside from those in the image above, other tweets included:

  • Just overhead our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?” #hmvXFactorFiring

  • So really, what have we to lose? It’s been a pleasure folks! Best wishes to you all!

  • …and those hard working individuals, who wanted to make hmv great again, have mostly been fired, there seemed no other choice.

  • Especially since these accounts were set up by an intern (unpaid, technically illegal) two years ago.

  1. Sellitonline.com.au

When will brands learn that taking advantage of natural disasters in order to gain followers never works out for the better?

In January the Australian branch of Sellitonline.com promised to donate generators to those without power due to the Tasmanian bushfire crisis … but only if enough people liked their Facebook page.


Numerous users commented on the post slamming the site for its opportunistic marketing, and it was eventually removed by Facebook.

  1. Tesco

Another January fail, and this time it was Tesco making a bit of a blunder on Twitter.

Right smack-bang in the middle of the horsemeat crisis in the UK.

With a scheduled tweet about ‘hitting the hay’.

Enough said.

  1. Poland Springs

In February, Republican Florida senator Marco Rubio took a giant (and audible) gulp from a teeny-tiny bottle of Poland Springs on live TV during his Republican rebuttal address.

Any other brand would have instantly jumped on this completely accidental product placement, but not Poland Springs.

It took them 12 hours to respond to the event, when they hurriedly threw together an image of a Poland Springs bottle in front of a mirror and the caption ‘Reflecting on our cameo. What a night!’ on Facebook.

The brand’s Twitter account remained silent though (at the time it happened, it hadn’t actually been updated since 2011), and is now locked so that only confirmed followers can see its tweets.

  1. Burger King 

Burger King’s Twitter account was taken over by a mystery hacker in February, who changed the chain’s background image to a picture of Fish McBites and its profile picture to the McDonald’s logo.

They also changed Burger King’s bio and tweeted that the chain had been sold to McDonald’s. Burger King quickly shut down the Twitter handle, but has since regained control.

And what can we all learn from these fails?

Always, always double check your social media campaign. Bounce ideas off one-another. Ask a couple of members of the public. Think outside the box and try to understand how your campaign will be received.

And, to prevent your company from failing like Burger King, make sure you change your password regularly!

Do you have any tips for steering clear of social media blunders?

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