11 examples of bad social media crisis management

In pseudo-celebrity news, did you hear about the most epic brand meltdown on Facebook ever (or so says BuzzFeed)? It happened last night. The husband-and-wife owners of Amy’’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro took to the restaurant’s Facebook Page following an unflattering appearance on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares to fight unruly commenters. Implosion.

Social media can either be the tool that builds a company or the dagger that kills it. Keep your company protected by using social media crisis management properly and avoid public relations disasters. Here are some other lowlights and their lessons:

  1. Woody Harrelson doesn’t understand the meaning of AMA: When actor Woody Harrelson announced an AMA (Ask Me Anything) event on Reddit, he didn’t understand that “Anything” literally means “anything”. He had planned on using his time to specifically answer questions about his new movie Rampart, but became frustrated when questions were not of this nature, resulting in a flood of memes attacking the actor.
    Lesson learned: If you plan on using social media, understand its terms and audiences.
  2. McStories promo McBackfires: What was intended to be a promotion for the company quickly became a PR nightmare when their new feature, the “McStory” opened them up for bad publicity.
    Lesson learned: Plan for the worst before the worst finds you.
  3. Nestle falls to the dark side: A Nestle employee becomes overly defensive in an online argument causing many people to abandon the company altogether.
    Lesson learned: Do not let ego overshadow intent.
  4. Burger King’s happy accident: After hours of very unusual tweets from @BurgerKing, followers began to notice that something was off. Fortunately, the tweets were humorous but could have been devastating had they been offensive.
    Lesson learned: Monitor your company’s account often, even during a holiday long weekend. And set a strong password.
  5. Applebee’s PR personnel can’t keep quiet: Applebee’s came under fire after terminating a waitress for posting a negative customer comment. Regrettably, the Applebee’s poster forgot tact when communicating with disgruntled customers – which only amplified the situation. When Applebee’s could no longer defend themselves against the flood of negative comments, they resorted to deleting them instead. This did not go over well.
    Lesson learned: Poor social media crisis management can be very hard to recover from. Remember, what goes online often stays online.
  6. Abercrombie tells a costly joke: Abercrombie jokingly asked “Jersey Shore” cast member Mike Sorrentino to refrain from wearing their clothing as a marketing scheme. Unfortunately, the actor did not find this joke humorous and sued the company for $4 million.
    Lesson learned: Not everyone shares the same sense of humor. Decide if the reward is greater than the risk prior to taking the plunge.
  7. Lowe’s is building a reputation: Lowe’s pulled advertisements from the show “All-American Muslim” after a conservative Christian group complained. This caused a major backlash as thousands of Americans accused the company of bigotry.
    Lesson learned: Social media lives in the real world.
  8. FedEx doesn’t deliver: A video of a Federal Express delivery man throwing – and breaking – a computer monitor went viral almost instantly at the worst possible time: the holiday season.
    Lesson learned: The quality and consistency of training can make or break a company. And smile, you’re on camera!
  9. Obama Twitter causes stocks to plunge: A bogus claim via AP’s hacked Twitter account that President Obama had been injured in a bombing incident caused many stocks to crash quickly. Though the claim was swiftly debunked, the damage was still real.
    Lesson learned: Insufficient protection of websites can be very costly.
  10. The American Red Cross tends to its own disaster: A Red Cross intern mistakenly tweeted from the company’s official page rather than his personal twitter account. Fortunately, the situation was addressed promptly using a light-hearted tone.
    Lesson learned: Mistakes will happen. Own up to them and diffuse the situation quickly.

Social sites hold amazing potential when it comes to getting your company recognized, but can also increase vulnerability. Protect your company from a public relations disaster by practicing proper social media crisis management.

Comments 3

  1. Pingback: Where’s the ag online media crisis? | The Miller in Me

  2. Pingback: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Lessons to be learned from social media crises – Keeping it Social

  3. Pingback: How to manage crisis on Social Media – Alejandra Garcia

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