Facebook Pixel Get in touch

Blogs by Madeleine Helme

Madeleine Helme

| 3 min read

Social Media Fails

By Madeleine Helme

Social Media Fails
Social media can be a powerful tool if used correctly. However, when mistakes are made or it’s exploited, it can cause businesses a headache. We go over some recent and embarrassing examples.

Social media can be the most valuable tool in a company’s toolbelt when it comes to promoting themselves and getting more leads. But when left in the wrong hands, social media can also be pretty damaging to a brand’s reputation.

To give you an idea of what to avoid on social media, let’s look at some of the best (or worst) social media fails from the last few years. From the hilarious to the downright bad.

Accidental Racism from Adidas

Adidas had a great idea to get their followers involved when the brand promoted their new kit for Arsenal this summer. So, when a Twitter user retweeted Adidas’ tweet, they could see their own Twitter handle on the back of the Arsenal shirt.

Unfortunately, not everyone’s usernames on Twitter are in the best taste. The result was a handful of Arsenal shirts emblazoned with racial slurs and other kinds of offensive content, tweeted directly from Adidas’ official Twitter page. Of course, the offensive shirts got retweeted much more than the ordinary ones. Adidas soon deleted the tweets and apologised profusely for the situation.

Social Media Fails - Adidas
Some of the horrible shirts and tweets generated by the system


Even the social media giants themselves can get it wrong sometimes. And Snapchat proved this to us last year. An ad on their platform was promoting a fun mobile game of “Would You Rather?” But the example chosen for the ad certainly wasn’t harmless.

It asked whether users would rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown. After the very public domestic violence case between them late last decade, in which Chris Brown pleaded guilty, this wasn’t in the best taste! It attracted a lot of negative attention, even from Rihanna herself. It ended in a massive drop in market share for Snapchat.

Terrible social media marketing campaign from SnapChat

Microsoft’s Chatbot Uprising

Automated bots have a lot of uses in the marketing world, but they certainly can’t be trusted with everything. Especially when left under the influence of Twitter trolls. In 2016, Microsoft launched a chatbot called Tay. It was designed to tweet and converse with other users on Twitter.

As people talk to this bot, it learns more from the content of their tweets. So, unsurprisingly, people joking around online started teaching it rude and offensive things. The result was an incredibly racist chatbot spewing awful views all over Twitter. Definitely not something Microsoft wanted to be associated with!

Terrible examples of Microsoft’s “Tay”

HMV mass firing

The lesson HMV can teach us is never leave fired (or soon-to-be fired) employees in charge of your social media. Back in 2013, HMV starting laying people off as their profits continued to drop. Amidst this mass firing, one understandably disgruntled employee decided to express her views on the company’s official Twitter page.

You can probably guess that the tweets didn’t exactly paint HMV in the best light, not to mention publicly airing the hard times they were going through.

Social Media Fails - HMV
Sacked HMV employee expressing their views on the official HMV account

Avoid social media fails for your brand

Which is your favourite of these social media fails? Now, these are all high-profile brands on social media, so they’re obviously under more scrutiny than the rest of us. It still matters what you say and do on social media, but don’t panic about ruining your entire business over a typo.

If you want to make sure that your social media presence is in good hands and that you avoid social media fails, then get in touch with Vitty to learn about our social media management services.