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Social Fails And The Lessons We Can Learn From Them

Social Fails And The Lessons We Can Learn From Them
by Sociota Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014
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Social media is fraught with brands making errors in judgement that can damage their online identity. 2014 has been no exception to the various mistakes that have provided endless lessons for social media experts to use.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes from 2014 so far and what lessons we can learn from them.


1. Blaming The Tools

Rakesh "Rocky" Agrawal, the former Director of Global Strategy at PayPal, was caught red handed for sending abusive tweets about a colleague. Amongst the tweets he accused the vice-president of Global Communications, Christina Smedley, of being useless and suggested she should be fired.

The next day he blamed a number of factors on his series of tweets including unfamiliarity with a new phone, stress and sleep deprivation. The truth of the matter was he was at a Jazz bar being social with a few friends.

The action from PayPal was swift and Agrawai was removed from his post with immediate effect.

Lesson: Don’t use your account during or after you’ve been socialising. 


2. Security Breach

JK Rowling came under fire after she donated £1 million to the Better Together campaign in the recent Scottish Referendum. After the news broke she received a nasty message from the Dignity Project which appeared to be voting for independence.

No matter on what side of the argument you were on, this was clearly a disrespectful comment and stood out in the mainly peaceful process. The charity, which provides support for African children, did issue a disclaimer the comment was created by a hacker who gained access to their account.

Lesson: Secure your social media accounts with high quality passwords and change them every 90 days.


3. Driving Readers Mad

Audi’s #paidmyduties campaign upset many of the followers because it failed to consider what their fans wanted. The campaign asked followers to share real life triumphs over adversity to advertise their new A3 Sedan. The best examples were then turned into images by a variety of artists with the images finally to be sold on Ebay to raise money for charity.

None of the art was related to cars and this caused a stir amongst their main followers. Many directly took to Instragram, Vine, Facebook and Twitter to voice their objections and request a return to the topic of interest: cars. They also lost a significant amount of followers and interest in their brand.

Lesson: Consider what your audience want to read and create the content to match.


4. Police Caught Out

When the NYPD wanted to enhance their image and start building an online relationship between them and the public they thought of asking social media users to post pictures of officers and members of the public together. What happened was an onslaught of images which could only damage the reputation of the NYPD police department.

Included in the images was a man being carried by four officers, an officer pulling on the hair of a woman and a sleeping officer on the train. As these messages were not posted by the police they have remained visible, whereas most fails are removed by social media managers. Therefore, there could be lasting damage from this social media fail.

Lesson: Consider what those who don’t like your brand may highlight during your campaigns.



Social media fails are always going to happen. It is likely in the remainder of 2014 there will be another few high profile fails that will grab the attention of social media experts. One of the best methods to limit the risk of mistakes is to use a social media management tool to write, review and adjust content to ensure it will have the maximum impact, in the way you want it to.

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