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6 Awkward Social Media Marketing Fails


Social media can be a fantastic marketing tool, but it's not always easy to get it right. Brands have learned this the hard way in recent years, as some of their social media posts have resulted in major PR disasters and even brand boycotts. As you prepare your next marketing campaign, here are 11 examples of how not to use social media, along with tips on what you can do instead:

#1 - Kenneth Cole in 2011.

Kenneth Cole in 2011. When the Egyptian uprising began, Kenneth Cole tweeted: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." The tweet was widely criticized and the company apologized, saying it was meant to be a "tongue-in-cheek" reference to how quickly news travels these days. However, it didn't stop there: after deleting the tweet and posting an apology, some users continued to criticize their response as not being genuine or sincere enough (the market value of Kenneth Cole's stock fell by almost $100 million within one day).

#2 - Forever 21 in 2016.

While Forever 21 was quickly and harshly criticized for the tweet, it's worth noting that there was no malicious intent behind it. While we're not making any excuses for their mistake, this instance is an example of a brand trying to get in on the fun online but crossing a line that went too far.

The takeaway? Don't tweet anything you wouldn't say in-person or post on Facebook if you don't want your audience to be offended by it—and always check your tweets before hitting send.

#3 - McDonald's in 2017.

When the McDonald's Twitter account was hacked in 2017, it became clear that social media mistakes are not limited to businesses. The hacker changed the profile picture and banner to a photo of McDonald's mascot Ronald McDonald with a message saying that McDonald's had been sold to rival Wendy's.

Other than being embarrassing for McDonald’s, this hack also shows how important it is to have good security protocols in place when using social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook.

#4 - SpaghettiOs' Pearl Harbor Tweet in 2018.

SpaghettiOs’ Pearl Harbor tweet was a social media marketing fail that took place on December 7, 2018. The brand tweeted a picture of two SpaghettiOs cans with the words “Never Forget” written across them and an American flag emoji. This simple post was intended to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it ended up being deleted after it received backlash from users who thought that it was in poor taste to use such an important date as an opportunity for commercialization.

The tweet was created in response to a tweet posted by Donald Trump earlier that day about his upcoming visit with U.S. troops stationed in Hawaii at Yokota Air Base on December 7th during his trip back from Asia as he prepared for talks with Kim Jong Un over North Korea's nuclear program."

#5 - Wendy's Questionable Question in 2019.

You know that saying about how there's no such thing as bad publicity? Well, it turns out that there is. And Wendy's learned this the hard way when they posted a tweet on their Twitter account asking customers if they prefer their burgers "fresh" or "overdone." The tweet was in response to a customer who had complained that the restaurant stopped serving breakfast at 10:30am and suggested that they start serving it later so she could get her favorite breakfast combo at 11:30am instead of 10:30am.

The tweet has since been deleted, but not before going viral and causing social media users everywhere to lose their minds over its apparently offensive nature—which makes us wonder if we should really be blaming Wendy's for their lack of social media sensitivity or if we should be blaming ourselves for being so easily offended these days? Either way, let this serve as an important reminder not just for your business but also for your personal life: think carefully before you post something online—it might end up costing you more than just embarrassment.

#6 - Pepsi's Social Justice Campaign in 2017.

The #PepsiChallenge campaign was a major fail. This is partly because Pepsi's social justice campaign was a major fail—and not just for how it turned out.

The ad was supposed to be a response to the "Black Lives Matter" movement and featured Kendall Jenner handing a police officer a can of Pepsi, who then throws it back at her in disgust.

It was pulled after only 24 hours after being criticized on social media for being tone-deaf and offensive.

Now is a good time to be careful with your social media marketing and make sure you're not about to put your brand at risk with a major social media fail

Social media is a critical marketing tool for many businesses. It helps to build brand awareness and loyalty, generate leads and increase sales. But social media can also damage your brand's image and reputation if you're not careful.


The marketing world is changing, and it’s never been more important to keep up with what’s going on. Make sure that your social media marketing team is staying on top of trends so they can make sure their content stays relevant and engaging—and most importantly, doesn't get you into trouble!



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