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Social Media Disasters All Too Easy

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday June 30, 2012 )

I’m don’t consider myself a social media expert and realising that has been A Very Good Thing.

Social media has become a fixation for some companies and it’s understandable – a good social media strategy can translate to a boost in sales and better search engine rankings.

However, “good” isn’t good enough. There are so many examples of what can go wrong if social media focused campaigns aren’t approached really, really carefully.

A recent tweet from Starbucks referring to the Irish being British has caused them a lot of PR damage in Ireland. The full details of the gaffe have been widely covered; including on SearchEngineWatch.

A handful of words is all took to stir up the twitstorm – and the tweet was in no way meant to be malicious or controversial.

Aside from the immediate damage is the problem these incidents don’t always blow over quickly in that they can be showcased in search results for a long time.

A search on the keywords Starbucks Ireland should send a pre-cautionary shiver down the spine of any company considering engaging customers or potential clients via social media.

As far as I know, Starbucks uses “experts” for its social media. If the experts get it wrong, it’s so much easier for the non-expert to screw it up; although I think many of us know it’s unwise to call a person from Ireland a Brit :).

The Starbucks scenario happens all too regularly among companies – it’s a little frightening that 140 characters can have such an impact; even when the intention isn’t malicious.

Joe Surfer can spout all the poison he likes on Facebook and Twitter and hardly an eyebrow will be raised, but if a company – particularly a well known brand – posts even something a little off and regardless of the intention, the hordes may take it apart like a pack of hyenas on an injured antelope. If that isn’t bad enough, what remains of the carcass is then left to the buzzards and other scavengers to pick over.

As soon as one of your team says, “we’ve got a great idea for a social media campaign”; assume an appropriate level of caution (high).


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