Scary Social Media Stories

Last week, we advised executives to embrace social media and outlined the benefits of doing so. But October is also the time to indulge our fears in ghouls, goblins and scream-worthy horror stories, so why not look to social media for some examples?


We have all heard about the employee who accidentally tweeted something offensive from the company twitter handle and was fired, or the fashion designer who tried to capitalize on a trending philanthropic hashtag and created a PR backlash. But what about the companies who recover well? How can you avoid these horror stories or clean up the mess after? Here, we flip the switch and show you that the monsters under the bed aren’t really monsters after all. In fact, a social media crisis gives your brand the perfect opportunity to surprise and delight critics – and turn them into customers.



Take a look at Mashable’s explanation for how the American Red Cross handled what could have been a social media nightmare.When their social media specialist accidentally sent out a rogue tweet from the organization’s Twitter handle instead of her own about “#gettngslizzerd”, the American Red Cross deftly crafted a good-humored response:



Red Cross response



This is an example of how to properly avert a crisis by acknowledging one’s mistakes, making light of a situation and continuing with business as usual. Wendy Harman, Social Media Director for the Red Cross, put things into perspective. "We are an organization that deals with life-changing disasters and this wasn't one of them," Harman told Mashable. "It was just a little mistake." Luckily, the social media misstep was an innocent one with no major victims or the accidental misuse of a trending hashtag.



Still not convinced you can handle the scary side of social media? Besides the American Red Cross, British bakery chain, Greggs, took an obvious mistake by Google and created a dynamic dialogue between the two businesses that garnered close attention. When Google accidentally pulled the incorrect logo and slogan from a parody website instead of the official Greggs slogan, “Always Fresh. Always Tasty.” Twitter users alerted the UK baked goods giant to the error. The digital team responded with:






This sweet response caused Google UK’s team to respond with a sincere apology and commitment to fixing the issue. The accompanying photo showing Homer Simpson focused on donuts, played off the baked goods theme initiated by Greggs:






Greggs publicly replied, “We love you Google!!!”The issue was quickly resolved, prompting the company to post a photo of the word “Google” spelled out in sausage rolls, proposing they be given the Google doodle the following day. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it, but Greggs certainly got the better end of the deal; they bantered with the best and proved they were stars in social media and crisis management. Citing this situation, Campaign magazine summarized the takeaways:"Act fast; react like a human; build on the situation."



Here are a few more tips from SteamFeed for avoiding zombie-like social media behavior—the undead tweets and Facebook posts that might rise up over and over again to haunt you:  


  • Establish a social media policy
  • Enact a social media crisis communications plan
  • Have administrative access
  • Don’t have a knee-jerk reaction
  • Don’t hide the mistake

We hope that these well-handled snafus help to inform your company’s programs and guide your employees to become savvy social media users. And don’t be afraid of the social media monsters under the bed. The best brands know how to turn critics’ frowns upside down with their responses to almost any crisis.
Do you have any online “horror stories” you experienced, but learned a great deal from? Drop us a line in the comments section or share with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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