How Not To Tweet: the most glorious disasters of social media

Taking control of a corporate Twitter account is a bit like having kids – it’s truly amazing that you don’t have to have any sort of training to do it. For better or for worse, social media is increasingly becoming the way in which a business communicates its brand, and there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of the big dogs get it spectacularly wrong. Like asking Donald Trump to do the Harlem Shake, it’s clear that some titans of technology just don’t mix.

McDonalds #mcdstories

LESSON: The hashtag’s revenge

In early 2012 everyone’s favourite reconstituted chicken packagers McDonald’s decided to trying out this fancy ‘promoted tweet’ thing they’d heard so much about. Paying for the pleasure of having #mcdstories pop up on everyone’s feed, they were rather dismayed to find that the hastag was quickly hijacked by people whose stories were, well, less than rosy. High-points for the experiment included tweets such as

“One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 Diabetes floating in the air and I threw up #mcdstories”

“Dude, I used to work in @McDonalds. The #mcdstories I could tell would raise your hair.”

The campaign lasted a grand total of two hours before it was frantically pulled by McDonalds HQ. Social Media Director Rick Wion said “As Twitter continues to evolve its platform and involvement opportunities, we’re learning from our experiences.” Which is probably McDonalds for “please don’t look in the fridge.”

NRA Aurora tweets

LESSON: Scheduled tweets are not always appropriate tweets

To be fair, this was a mistake made by a journal closely affiliated with the NRA, rather than by the NRA itself. But then again, who needs to be fair on the NRA? So, we all remember the horrific movie theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado in mid 2012. As the world stood motionless with shock at the horrors of what had happened, the official account for American Rifleman tweeted the following:

“Good morning shooters! Happy Friday! Any plans?”

It soon transpired that the tweet had been scheduled via Hootsuite the day before, but the cataclysmic inappropriateness of it still meant that it went all across the world before the gun-toting writers even had a chance to get rid of it. Poor things.

Gap’s Hurricane Sandy tweets

LESSON: Not every trend needs to be ridden

I don’t know about you, but I often spend much of a international tragedy thinking about discount jeans. Apparently, my thinking is shared by the good people over at Gap, who saw the October super-storm that killed over 275 people as a great marketing opportunity. Seeing that the hashtag #sandy was trending as people around the world did their best to share life-saving information, Gap released the following tweet:

“All impacted by #sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of shopping today, how about you?”

Online wool shopping. Really the only tonic to global devastation.

Durex South Africa jokes

LESSON: Remember how big Twitter is

Any good Community Manager knows that as curator of content for your brand, you have to really think about the people you’re sending your messages to, the kind of conversation you want to spark, and the type of company you want to be seen as. So, what exactly does this tweet say about the culture of Durex?

“Why did God give men penises? So they’d have at least one way to shut a woman up #durexjoke”


Kitchen Aid’s Obama tweets

LESSON: With great power… 

The great thing about smart phones is that you can easily tweet from multiple accounts in the blink of an eye. But the terrible thing about smart phones is that you can easily tweet from multiple accounts in the blink of an eye. Things that, it turns out, are basically the most offensive things you can imagine.

During the Obama/Romney presidential debates last year, President Obama announced that his grand-mother had died soon before he took office in 2008. It was left to our helpful culinary friends over at Kitchen Aid to say what none of us were thinking.

“@KitchenAidUSA: Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he become president”.”??? Wow! #nbcpolitics”

Whether down to the personal offensive or the horrendous grammar, the twitter world leapt on the rogue tweet, and it was left to the Senior Director of the company to apologise on behalf the entire brand. Perhaps the solution is a quick spelling test before you give your passwords out?

It’s a twitter jungle out there. Stay safe.

Natasha Hodgson

Enternships Community Manager

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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

One thought on “How Not To Tweet: the most glorious disasters of social media”

  1. we_are_squared You are just so welcome. It’s nice to know the big dogs get it wrong from time to time, isn’t it? (espesh Maccy Ds, ahaha)

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