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The Biggest Social Media Scandals, Fails, and Blunders of 2013

Guest post by Yazmin Gray.


Social media can do a lot of good, but it’s also a platform capable of killing a reputation in under a minute. Several companies got a good taste of that last year. Check out these biggest social media fails of 2013.

Applebee’s Makes Rules it Can’t Keep

shutterstock_147365414Last year a waitress from St. Louis posted a photo of a customer’s receipt which read “I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?” Understandably, this photo violated the restaurant’s corporate policy about sharing guests’ personal information. The real issue came in when followers pointed out that the company recently posted a photo on Facebook of a guests’ note that showed their name. Woops. Applebee’s promptly deleted the earlier photo, which made their followers even more upset!

HMV Employees Live Tweet The Firing of 190 Staff Members

shutterstock_128689250The music chain HMV forgot who had access to their Twitter feed. An unpaid intern originally created the Twitter account, which left access open to other employees. One employee decided to take out their anger by live tweeting as the company fired 190 members of its staff. The first tweet read, “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!” When the marketing director realized what was happening, he reportedly said “How do I shut down Twitter?”

Epicurious Uses the Boston Marathon to Sell Products

There’s nothing more offensive than using a tragedy to sell products, but Epicurious thought they could take advantage of the Boston bombing for their own personal gain. The company reportedly tweeted, “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!” and “Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start the day.” Umm…thanks, but no thanks. The Internet was not impressed by the shameless promotion.

JP Morgan Cancels Q&A Session

shutterstock_160975910When JP Morgan Chase offered college students the chance to talk to an executive using the hashtag #AskJPM, they didn’t expect the idea to come back to bite them. With questions like “Can I have my house back?” JP Morgan eventually tweeted “Tomorrow’s Q&A cancelled. Bad idea. Back to the drawing board.” Fail.

London Luton Airport Shares a Plane Crash Photo


Perhaps not a bad idea in theory, the London Luton Airport shared a photo of a plane crash on Facebook that read, “Because we are such a super airport … this is what we prevent you from when it snows … Weeeee :)” The problem is the photo depicted a plane crash that ended up killing a six-year-old boy. Needless to say, the accounts’ followers were not happy.

Tesco Forgets about a Scheduled Tweet

shutterstock_121441867After news got out about the horsemeat scandal in the UK, Tesco was a main victim, and shoppers were disappointed to hear that food investigators found that almost a third of their burgers contained horse meat when they advertised beef. But their social media managers forgot about a Tweet they’d already scheduled and failed to take it down before it went live. The tweet read “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets.” Oops.

Amy’s Baking Company Goes on a Rant

shutterstock_95063668After the episode of Kitchen Nightmares featuring Amy’s Baking Company aired, people watching the show took to Facebook to criticize the restaurant. This lead to an hour-long rant that’s difficult to forget. With updates like, “You are all just little punks. Nothing. You are all nothing,” and “YOU DON’T KNOW US!! WE WILL THRIVE! WE WILL OVERCOME!” the company’s owners should have just held their tongue.

Unlike these businesses that tarnished their reputations with social media last year, other companies like T-Mobile are using it to their advantage. For instance, T-Mobile’s CEO Joh Legere, who recently revolutionized the cookie-cutter CEO appearance and has “brilliantly transformed into a rebel CEO” as The Washington Post puts it, is now leveraging Twitter to connect with customers in a way his competing company CEOs haven’t yet adopted. Plus, he’s already raked in over 100,000 followers. Social media doesn’t have to be all bad if you utilize it properly.

Want to make sure you don’t fall into these traps? Learn how to avoid ruining your company’s reputation online.



Yazmin Gray is a graduate student at the University of Tampa. On her free time if she’s not writing she is probably at Crossfit.


(photo credit)

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