8 Big Social Media Disasters of 2012

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Whether we’re Instagramming dinner, tweeting birthday plans, or liking a friend’s Facebook status, we’ve come to use social media every day. The new medium had been around long before it had a title, but for nearly 10 years, millions have embraced social networking to keep in touch with family, follow celebrities and athletes, and see pictures that wouldn’t have been taken prior to smartphones.

Social media has also altered how we buy stuff. With our favorite restaurants and brands offering deals and gifts on Facebook and Twitter, there’s no shortage of companies eliminating the marketing middle man and advertising straight to the consumer. There are, however, companies that make mega mistakes for millions to see.

Here are eight disasters from 2012…

1. McDonald’s: #McDStories

When McDonald’s launched their #McDStories social media campaign in January, they wanted fans to report their great dining experiences. The company even paid for the promotion of the hashtag to increase awareness. Unfortunately, many tweeters used the tag to talk about horror stories instead. From one tweet: “Ate a McFish and vomited 1 hour later… The last time I got McDonalds was seriously 18 years ago in college… #McDStories.”

The campaign was pulled two hours later, but that didn’t stop the hashtag from spiraling out of control.

2. NRA’s American Rifleman: Aurora shooting

On July 20, a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., was starting its midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” About 15 minutes in, a gunman entered the theater, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. Hours after the shooting, the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman magazine tweeted “Good morning, shooters! Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” Many thought it was an insensitive joke, but NRA admitted the person maintaining the account at the time was unaware of the Aurora shooting before sending the tweet.

The tweet was later deleted.

3. Chick-fil-A: fake Facebook accounts

When Chick-fil-A stopped carrying Jim Henson’s Muppet toys earlier this summer, angry customers took over the company’s Facebook page. The restaurant had no control over the content that users were posting to the page, so they enlisted the help of Abbey Farle – a fictional profile that only replied to negative comments on the Chick-fil-A Facebook page, defending the restaurant.

Not long after the comments from Abbey had started did they stop. One person found Abbey’s profile picture on a stock photography website and the profile was quickly deleted when people realized it wasn’t real. Chick-fil-A denied creating the account. Whether they were directly involved or not, Chick-fil-A got immense backlash for Abbey Farle.

4. KitchenAid: Obama’s grandmother

During the first Presidential debate in October, many remember Republican Mitt Romney discussing his love for Big Bird, but there was also that moment appliance company KitchenAid dissed President Obama’s deceased grandmother. The account tweeted: “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president”.”??? Wow!” #nbcpolitics”

KitchenAid issued a formal apology from the Twitter account hours later, noting the tweeter responsible will no longer be tweeting for them.

5. StubHub: ‘stubsucking hell hole’

If you work for a company you hate, you may not want to admit how much you hate it. Take this lesson from a StubHub employee in October who tweeted: “Thank [email protected] it’s Friday! Can’t wait to get out of this stubsucking hell hole.”

StubHub issued an apology and deleted the tweet. If you’re a social media community manager, this is one of those moments where if you want to tweet, find a different Twitter account to do it from that doesn’t include your work handle.

6. American Apparel: Superstorm Sandy promotion

When monster storm Sandy was rolling through the northeast in October, clothing company American Apparel capitalized on the opportunity for publicity. Their email announced a special “In case you’re bored during the storm. 20 percent off everything for next 36 hours.” It was only good for residents along nine eastern states. The sale was aptly named “SANDYSALE.”

American Apparel’s statement following the negative backlash admitted it was to make up for lost revenue since the brick-and-mortar stores were closed. There wasn’t a formal apology.

7. Kansas City Chiefs: Get a clue

If your football team was 2-10 on the season, wouldn’t you feel entitled to openly criticize them on Twitter? One fan did, and when he got a private response, he shared it very publicly.

Travis Wright, in front of 125,000 fans, tweeted he wasn’t a “big @kcchiefs fan anymore” because “Clark Hunt’s yearly 30m under the cap bull$#!* is unethical. Greedy bastards can F.O.” Clark Hunt is the chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs responded via direct message to Wright, stating: “Would help if you had your facts straight. Your choice to be a fan. cc get a clue.” Wright took a screenshot of the message and posted to community site Reddit where it went viral. A few hours later, the Chiefs issued an apology.

8. Pigalle: Go [email protected] Yourself

While many consider Thanksgiving to be spent at home with your loved ones, some head out for the holiday to enjoy the meal. Sandy Tremblay spent this past turkey day at Pigalle in Boston, but she definitely wasn’t thankful for it.

Tremblay commented on Pigalle’s Facebook page about her experience, saying, “I would of [sic] rather gave the money to the homeless person outside your front door.”

A public response by someone claiming to be the restaurant’s chef told Sandy to “go [email protected] yourself” and to return for her $200 she spent on the meal. Pigalle later deleted the response left on Tremblay’s comment, but not before the public ranted on the restaurant’s Facebook page. They have since apologized for the foul language and insults, but it is unknown whether or not any further action was taken.

What do you think was the biggest social media failure this year? Tell us on our Facebook page.

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