The biggest social media slip ups of 2018

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Social media allows you to broadcast messages to people all over the world and make meaningful connections with people in all fields and industries without ever meeting face to face. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. A social media faux pas can result in serious consequences for your brand’s reputation and its bottom line. 

Here are a couple of examples from 2018 of the most serious social media gaffes and how you can avoid their mistakes.

1.    Kevin Hart loses his Oscars hosting gig two days after he gets it

US comic Kevin Hart was on top of the world when it was announced he would be the host of the 2019 Oscars on the 4thof December. By the 6th, he was no longer hosting. 

After the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences announced that Hart scored the 2019 gig, members of the public pored through his Twitter account and dug up homophobic tweets from 2010 and 2011. Hart said the Academy gave him an ultimatum, saying he needed to publicly apologise for the tweets or the hosting spot was no longer his. He chose the latter option.

Lesson: follow the Academy’s advice – if someone won’t apologise, ditch them. Don’t tarnish your brand by continuing to associate with someone who refuses to acknowledge the hurt caused by their comments. And from Hart’s perspective, if you get caught saying the wrong thing on social media, a genuine and heartfelt apology is the best form of damage control. 

2.   Snapchat advertises a game making light of domestic violence

Back in March, Snapchat fell into hot water for featuring a game created by a third party that asked users if they would rather ‘slap Rihanna, or punch Chris Brown’. This was a reference to a 2009 incident where Chris Brown was charged with assaulting Rihanna.

RiRi fired back in an Instagram story, saying the game made light of domestic violence victims everywhere. Even though Snapchat apologised, shares in the company dropped almost five per cent as a result of the incident, meaning their insensitive blunder cost them almost $1 billion.

Lesson: domestic violence isn’t funny. It’s better to avoid attempting edgy humour as a brand, as what a small subset of people might laugh at, a great many more people will probably find offensive, alienating a huge chunk of your audience.  


3.   Washington State coach tweets fake Obama video

In the digital age, it’s increasingly hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake. Washington State football coach Mike Leach committed two social media mistakes in one this year when he tweeted out a video of US President Barack Obama without realising it had been heavily manipulated. 

When other Twitter users pointed out Leach’s mistake, he doubled down, insisting the video wasn’t a fake. Washington State University said the controversy caused several high profile donors to stop giving money, costing the university around $1.6 million. 

Lesson: there are several things to learn from this incident. The first is that high profile members of your organisation can do damage to your brand on social media, even if their social media mistakes have no direct correlation to your brand. The second is that factchecking before you share content is very important; don’t get caught out by intentionally misleading material.


4.   Samsung tweets an ad for Galaxy Note 9 – from an iPhone

One of advertising’s most basic precepts is that you should promote your own product, not your competitors’. So Samsung Nigeria were humiliated when in December one of their promotional tweets for their Galaxy Note 9 phone bore the stamp ‘via Twitter for iPhone’

Things went from bad to worse when Twitter analyst Luca Hammer examined over 3200 Samsung tweets and discovered over 10 per cent had been sent from an iPhone. The Twitter account went dark for a few days, then resurfaced with the iPhone tweets purged.  

Lesson: pay attention to details and know the social media platform you’re using inside out. If Samsung realised that Twitter broadcasts the type of device tweets are sent from, they’d have avoided a whole lot of embarrassment.

Overwhelmed by the ins and outs of social media? Get in touch with our team at Anouska & Co and we can whip your brand’s socials into shape.

Emma Bartlett