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The top 16 social media fails of 2013

Last Updated

So this year has been an epic year in social media with so much happening and here at Ireland Website Design we picked through all the happenings to bring you the 16 worst social media fails from 2013. Have a read and tell us what you think was the biggest fail in your opinion.

1. Benadryl Interactive Pollen Count Goes Bad

An interactive map where a user has drawn a penis with the location pins

As part of its marketing campaign during the hay fever season this year Benadryl came up with an interactive pollen count map which users were allowed to contribute and pin point pollen hot spots. Unfortunately for Benadryl it was not long before people realized they could use these pins to create swear words or draw rude pictures.

2. The Onion Calls a nine year old actress a C***

The Onion is an American news satire organization. They often issue pretty edgy statements on social media and usually never apologise. However, during the Oscars they made a tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis, the nine year old actress from Hushpuppy, which went a step too far. If you struggle to figure out the blurred word then we can give you a clue, it is a four-letter word beginning with ‘c’. A backlash occurred on social media which forced Steve Hannah, the CEO to issue a personal apology.

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a c***, right?

3. JP Morgan, a company not aware of its public image

In an excellent example of a company not aware of its public reputation, JP Morgan put their vice-chairman Jimmy Lee up for a Q&A session. The hashtag #AskJPM became overflowed with abuse prior to the Q&A, JP Morgan came to its senses and cancelled the event.

4. British Airways Loses Baggage and gets blasted on Twitter

So it’s not the biggest fail in the world when a customer moans about your service via social media, I guess it happens but when BA did not respond the really annoyed Hassan Syed decided to purchase social advertise to promote his campaign the tweet ended up being seen by over 76,000 people and 8 hours later when BA had still not responded the conversation and backlash had already grown hugely. British Airways, a company opened 24/7, only minds its social media between 9 and 5 and really goes to show how important it is for big companies and organizations to be available to monitor and sort out social media issues at any hour of the day to stop the problem festering like it did in this case.

5. Amy’s Baking has a public meltdown

So this bakery goes on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and sets a new low. Stealing staff tips, firing more than 100 staff and picking fights with customers. After the show lots of talking on social media took place and Amy’s Bakery took to their social media too and no one could have expected the reaction that occurred.

Another Tweet, now deleted, said: “To all the Yelpers and Reddits: Bring it on. You are just pussies. Come to Arizona. You are weaker than my wife, and weaker than me. Come to my business. Say it to my face. Man to man. My wife is a jewel in the desert. You are just trash. Reddits and yelpers just working together to bring us down. Pathetic”

6. Home Depot’s casual racism

Home Depot had to apologise after tweeting a picture of two African-American employees with another wearing a gorilla mask in between them. Though the picture is not racist, it was also accompanied by the text: “Which drummer is not like the others?” Enraged tweeters hopped on Twitter and Home Base received a good owl bashing. The company quickly took down the image and sacked the employee responsible.

7. Tesco caught horsing around

The horse meat scandal was one of the biggest stories to hit Ireland this year, and Tesco was the biggest culprit. It was found that over 30% of the meat used in burgers from the Tesco value range contained horse. However, Tesco’s social media staff did not react quickly enough to stop a pre-scheduled tweet to go out, which got a lot of replies.

8. Luton Airport poor joke about a child’s death

People on Twitter were justifiably offended when Luton Airport used a photo of a plane crash that caused the death of a child to make a poor joke. The company reacted quickly to take down the image, but not quickly enough.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 crash scene photo

9. British Gas gets its timing all wrong

British Gas gets hung in a Twitter Q&A. They decided to run a Q&A at the same time as they announced a price increase of 11%. They seemed to think it would be a great place to answer questions about a greedy and indefensible price hike.

Our own social media wizard, Abby, has already examined the ensuing debacle in more detail, discovering that of the 16,000+ angry responses that British Gas received, 145 contained the word ‘death’ and 88 accused the company of being ‘greedy’.

10. Using the Boston Bombings to sell more scones, great idea

So this company that sells scones and breakfasts decided it was a great time to advertise using the Boston bombing just as they happened. Crude is not the word, and of course, an ensuing backlash of Twitter users occurred.

11. Nokia finally loses it

The once huge Nokia phone brand who got left behind when smartphones appeared has finally lost it when someone in the New Zealand office left this message on the companies Twitter page.

'Fuck you' Nokia tweet

12. Ryanair’s CEO shows his true colours

Our very own Irish CEO Michael O’Leary goes on Twitter, and has a disastrous time. The idea was to soften his image, however it was a disaster with O’Leary making sexist, rude and confrontational comments.

O’Leary forgot to put dots in front of his responses and use the hashtag. I guess if Michael ever reads this post he won’t be getting us to revamp his website, however he may get us to help with his Social Media skills.

 13. American Airlines stays upbeat in the face of adversity

Stock responses to @mentions on Twitter only work if the responses make sense.
American Airlines was caught out sending upbeat responses to complaints from Twitter users.

14. Burger King and Jeep promote their rivals

After Burger King had its Twitter hacked, they started sending out messages to say they had been bought over by McDonald’s and began promoting McDonald’s and not Burger King. As the hackers spent longer and longer at it, they started posting messages about Burger King employees taking drugs. The company was able to take back control of the account (and hopefully changed its password).

15. Hey Starbucks, why don’t you pay some tax?

Okay, so this one is from Christmas 2012, but I deem it to be close enough, and it’s definitely worth a mention.

At the ice rink at the Natural History Museum in London, Starbucks put on the big screen any posts with the hashtag #spreadthecheer, but forgot to actually monitor what was being posted.

This was all happening around the same time as the scandal regarding Starbucks and taxes. A few good posts went up and left Starbucks feeling a little red in the face.

16. HMV forgets who has access to its Twitter feed

When leaving staff go HMV did not check who was running their social media and needless to say this person was being fired too and was unhappy!

What ensued were live tweets from the sacking, where staff ridiculed bosses.

Using the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring, the employee first announced that a “mass execution” was taking place, before revealing that the marketing director had a limited knowledge of social media and that the Twitter account was initially established by an unpaid intern.

So that’s this year’s round up of Social Media blunders, I hope you enjoyed and why don’t you post below to let us know what you think about these blunders and maybe tell us of some that we were not already aware off!

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