As the digital world becomes more and more important, social media is a vital way to get your message out. Fortunately for us, many companies are hilariously bad at it. This year saw an epic number of social media fails, as ad agencies, marketing firms and clueless interns collaborated to make their employers look terrible. In this list, we’ll share ten of the absolute worst social media fails of 2012
Promoted topics on Twitter are always a recipe for disaster. It makes sense in theory: Get people talking about your brand and you’ll plant a seed in their brains. But when McDonald's paid to have #McDStories hit the top of the hashtags in January, they got a very unpleasant surprise. You see, people don’t often have good times at McDonald's, and the top tweets for the tag were people talking about getting food poisoning and finding fingernails in their Big Mac. The beleaguered fast food company ordered the promotion pulled after just two hours, but the damage was done.
Patrick Stewart vs. Time Warner Cable
As any New Yorker can tell you, getting cable installed in your apartment is a terrifying ordeal that often results in you having to take several days off work, terrified to leave for fear of missing the service guy. For average Joes like us, nobody listens or cares. But when Sir Patrick Stewart moved to Brooklyn and had to deal with it, things got crazy. Stewart took to Twitter to voice his disgruntlement, and even though Time Warner responded (in two minutes, no less), they couldn’t get the job done and Stewart got a dish instead.
Understanding trending topics is integral to success on Twitter. You need to be able to tie your brand in cleverly, but unobtrusively. That technique didn’t work for online fashion retailer CelebBoutique. In July, their social media staff posted “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)” Clearly not — people were actually tweeting about the horrific massacre of 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Even Kim Kardashian isn’t as horrible as that. The brand quickly deleted the tweet and apologized for the error.
KitchenAid vs. Obama
You really need to be careful with who has the keys to your company’s Twitter account. They need to be on-message at all times or else all hell can break loose. Case in point: KitchenAid. Their official Twitter page should be about cooking, baking and that kind of thing. Not politics. But when President Obama mentioned his dead grandmother during one of the debates, KitchenAid tweeted, “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president’” Needless to say, the company quickly got rid of the person responsible.
Woody Harrelson Owned By Reddit
It’s kind of amazing how Reddit has grown into one of the most influential sites on the Internet, for good or ill. One of the best ways for a celebrity to engage with the Internet at large is to do an “AmA,” or “Ask Me Anything,” where Redditors pose uncensored questions. Everybody up to Barack Obama has done one, but when actor Woody Harrelson showed up on February, things quickly went very wrong. The star, promoting his new movie "Rampart," answered a grand total of four questions and pissed off the entire site in the process. Oh, and the movie bombed.
Chick-Fil-A Facebook Fake
Fast food chain Chick-Fil-A ran into some controversy this year due to their donation to anti-gay organizations, and their social media strategy crashed and burned pretty hard on Facebook, as well. When the Jim Henson Company decided to cut ties with the restaurant over their political stance, Chick-Fil-A tried to spin it that it was their decision. On Facebook, a young woman named “Abby Farle” was a vocal supporter of the company — until it was revealed that Farle had joined Facebook just eight hours before her post on the Chick-Fil-A page and her profile pic was a stock photo. She was never conclusively connected to Chik-Fil-A, but it was damning all the same.
One of the most important ways to use social media is to directly interact with customers and improve your business. Dealing with criticism is an essential part of that. So, when a guy named Matt Fisher posted a blog that went viral about Progressive Insurance basically paying the legal costs to defend the driver that killed his sister so they wouldn’t have to pay out on her policy, Twitter exploded with outrage. Progressive handled things in just about the worst possible way — by sending automated robo-responses to everyone who mentioned it. Needless to say, it didn’t improve things.
Toyota Camry Effect
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t on Twitter to interact with brands. But that doesn’t stop brands from trying to interact with us. For this past year’s Super Bowl, Toyota rolled out a whole campaign based around “The Camry Effect,” complete with a whopping nine Twitter accounts. If you used a Super Bowl-related hashtag, you’d get a spam tweet from one of them promoting a contest to win a car. It was one of the worst uses of the platform ever, and within days Toyota had shut down all of the accounts and apologized for their idiocy.
Running a corporate Twitter account can be a thankless job, usually relegated to underpaid interns. So, it’s not surprising when one of them goes a little nuts. In October, the official Twitter account of StubHub, an online ticket-selling site, posted: “Thank f*ck it’s Friday! Can’t wait to get out of this stubsucking hell hole.” The Tweet was deleted in less than an hour and replaced by an apology from the company, but the damage was already done. They never fessed up to who was actually responsible for the profane outburst.
Next: 2012's Unforgettable Photos
Lindsay Lohan vs. Hurricane Sandy
Li-Lo is legendary for her moronic Twitter behavior, but nothing made her look like a spoiled rich idiot quite as much as a tweet she let fly in October right before megastorm Sandy hit the East Coast. “WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i’m calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity!” Needless to say, the thousands of people preparing to have their houses destroyed didn’t really care for the sloshed starlet’s idiotic laissez-faire attitude, and she was ripped to shreds by the gossip blogs. She has bigger things to worry about now, though.