Top 5 corporate social media blunders

Today, social media can be a very effective customer engagement strategy for brands, but when a social campaign backfires, the meltdowns are very public and very painful to the company that is responsible.

Sending a Tweet, Vine or Instagram photo has always been another opportunity for embarrassment or attack, but these blundering brands stand out as the worst of them all. Here are the best of the worst social media campaigns in our opinion:


NEXT: Ask us anything!


JP Morgan’s Arrogant Tweet:

JPMorgan's ill-fated campaign

JP Morgan was at the center of a social media storm last year when it invited Twitter users to send questions to an executive using the hashtag #AskJPM. The Twitterverse responded with more than 8,000 responses were sent within a six-hour period, according to Topsy, and two out of every three comments sent were negative.

The idea behind the tweet-up was to give students the opportunity to communicate with Jimmy Lee, one of JP Morgan’s most senior bankers and a key executive on the Twitter share sale. The live Q&A was due to take place on November 14th, but by the previous afternoon, the company tweeted: “Tomorrow’s Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.” The bank has been in the spotlight over its $13bn settlement for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities and the $6bn London Whale trading losses.


NEXT: The customer is always right?


British Airways Customer Service #Fail:

BA faces backlash

The explosion of social media has created a brand new way for consumers to taunt corporate brands: complaintvertising – a method of buying prominent advertising space on social media to air a grievance. British Airways found out about this new trend the hard way earlier this year, when Hasan Syed used Twitter’s self-service ad platform to post a promoted tweet, which read: “Don’t fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

Syed, a hair-care entrepreneur, had flown business class on the airline with his father on a trip to Paris. When BA lost his father’s luggage and failed to respond to his complaint on Twitter, he took matters into his own hands. Syed spent over $1,000 on his smear campaign and his angry tweets were seen by over 50,000 Twitter users in the UK and New York markets where his tweet ran.


NEXT: I’m not lovin’ it


McDonald’s Cautionary Tale:



In January 2012, McDonald’s sponsored the hashtag #McDStories, asking users to tweet in about positive dining experiences at its restaurants. Instead, respondents joked about obesity and dog food. The fast food chain pulled the campaign within two hours but users were still tweeting the abandoned hashtag an entire week after it was removed.


NEXT: More fast food problems


Counterfeit Burger King:

BK's woes

Last February, the fast food franchise fell victim to some hacktivists who changed Burger King’s account name to McDonald’s and added a new bio that stated, “Just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped =[ FREEDOM IS FAILURE.” “Look for McDonald’s in a hood near you!”

This was later followed by a string of fake tweets containing racial slurs, obscenities and references to drugs. McDonald’s drew further attention to the plight of its rival by tweeting: “We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking.”


NEXT: More offensive tweets


Home Depot gets racist:

Home Depot

When Home Depot tweeted a controversial image to its 165,000 or so users in November, the DIY store received hundreds of tweets accusing the chain of racism. Home Depot rescinded and issued an apology, but not before people took screen shots of it and it was circulated on social media. It then tried to calm the Twittersphere with a series of apology tweets: “We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it” but the image was retweeted thousands of times nonetheless.