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Geek Girl Report: #BadBusiness – US Airways And Other Big Business Social Media Blunders

trekkyandy, flickr

Ever since social media came on the scene, businesses small and large alike have been trying to figure out how to use his new technology to their advantage. If used correctly, sites like Facebook and Twitter can be an excellent tool for promoting your business, networking with consumers and business owners, and gaining new customers. However, if used incorrectly, it can make your business look foolish, incompetent, and in a worst-case scenario, can cause the public to quickly turn against you.

Case in point: US Airways caused a huge stir yesterday when someone posted an extremely inappropriate picture (which I will NOT provide a link to, as it is very not safe for work (NSFW) and I want to keep my job. If you’re really that curious about it, go Google it yourself.) on their official Twitter account. But as lewd and offensive as that tweet may have been, they’re definitely not the first business to have made a social media blunder, and they won’t be the last. Here’s just a sampling of some of the most talked about social media business blunders in recent years.

And business owners, take note – learn from these fails so you don’t make the same mistakes yourself.

1.) JPMorgan’s Snarky Q&A

As I mentioned before, social media is a great way to connect businesses to their customers. Wall Street giant JPMorgan decided to take it one step further by letting the general public talk directly to one of their executives. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well. In November of last year, JPMorgan put on a live Q&A with one of their executives on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskJPM. JPMorgan’s hope was apparently to give students the chance to reach out to one of their senior guys, maybe get some good PR and the like. But instead, what they got was tons of sass and abuse – over 8,000 comments worth of it, in fact. And after all that backlash, JPMorgan ended up calling off the Q&A. See, JPMorgan is just one of the businesses many in the U.S. held responsible for the massive recession in this country. And when you open up the flood gates to let the masses pose a question to an exec of a very unpopular business, you’re just asking for trouble.

2.) McDonald’s “McHorror Stories

Here’s another example of what happens when a business’s poor public image causes a social media campaign to backfire. Back in 2012, McDonalds tried to promote its business by encouraging its customers to post their positive dining experiences  using the hashtag #mcdstories. What they got was anything but positive. Twitter users instead used the hashtag to post their horror stories about McDonalds, comparing the food to dog food and chiding the company for contributing to obesity. After about two hours of these “McHorror Stories,” McDonalds abandoned the campaign. But here’s the kicker: McDonald’s paid Twitter to have their hashtag promoted all over the site. So essentially, they paid for all of that bad publicity. Sounds like someone needs to ask for a refund.

3.) Amy’s Baking Company’s Meltdown

Social media blunders aren’t just limited to big business. Smaller businesses can also makes fools out of themselves through social media. Last year, Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona was featured on the reality TV show Kitchen Nightmares on FOX. Even after all of their shoddy business practices were exposed on national television, the owners remained completely unapologetic. After the episode aired, viewers flocked to the company’s Facebook page and called them out on their behavior and practices. But instead of reacting calmly, the bakery had a complete social media meltdown. They lashed out at all the criticism, ranting and raving and cursing in all caps and threatening to sue all the “haters” who were posting on their page. The fallout was so extreme, it spilled over to Reddit and Yelp and made national news.

4.) HMV’s “live firings”

In case you were wondering, social media faux pas happen in other countries as well. Take British music chain HMV, for example. The chain had been struggling to stay afloat for years, and things were made worse last year when a cheeky employee decided to “live tweet” for a mass firing of 190 employees. Not surprisingly, the live tweets did noting to help HMV, and the company eventually figured out how to delete all those tweets, but not before the employee tweeted a gem from HMV’s marketing director asking “How do I delete Twitter?”

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