The Top 10 Corporate Social Media Disasters
Here's our pick of the social media setbacks...
1. JP Morgan "Snarkpocalypse"
Wall Street bank JP Morgan was at the centre of a social media storm earlier this month when it invited Twitter users to send questions to an executive using the hashtag #AskJPM.The Twitterverse responded with a storm of abuse. More than 8,000 responses were sent within a six-hour period, according to social media tracking service Topsy. Two out of every three comments sent were negative.
The original idea behind the tweet-up was to give students the opportunity to communicate directly with Jimmy Lee, one of JP Morgan's most senior bankers and a key executive on the Twitter share sale.
The live Q&A was due to take place on November 14th, but by the previous afternoon, the company tweeted:"Tomorrow's Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board."
The bank has been in the spotlight this year over its $13bn settlement for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities and the $6bn London Whale trading losses.
Abusive tweets included: "Quick! You're in a room with no key, a chair, two paper clips, and a lightbulb. How do you defraud investors?", and "What's your favourite type of whale? #AskJPM".
Twitter: Layoff List - #askjpm Is it easier to purchase a congressional representative or a senator?Twitter: Chris Lee - Why is it when the poor commit crimes we need more cops and mandatory sentences and when the rich commit crimes we need deregulation #askJPM
Twitter: Lindsey Sine - But really, we better stop making fun of #askJPM before they find a way to monetize the hillarity and charge us for our enjoyment at 33% APR
2. British Gatastrophe
JP Morgan is not alone in attracting the ire of social media users through an ill-advised online Q&A.
In October, British Gas decided to hold a "tweet-up" on the same day as it announced price rises of 10pc, prompting a huge social media backlash. Its #AskBG campaign, manned by Bert Pijls, the company's customer service director, was hijacked by users asking questions like, "My office has a window where the sun comes in and makes the side of my head really hot. How much do I owe you?"
3. Mayday for British Airways
The rise of social media has created a new way for consumers to taunt corporate brands: complaintvertising. This is the method of buying prominent advertising space on Twitter or Facebook to air a grievance.
British Airways found out about this new trend the hard way earlier this year, when Hasan Syed used Twitter's self-service ad platform to post a promoted tweet, which read: "Don't fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous."
Mr Syed, a hair-care entrepreneur based in Chicago, had flown business class on the airline with his father on a trip to Paris. When BA lost his father's luggage and failed to respond to his complaint on Twitter, he took matters into his own hands.
Mr Syed spent over $1,000 on his smear campaign and his angry tweets were seen by more than 50,000 Twitter users in the UK and New York markets where his promoted tweet ran.
4. Twitter shouts itself hoarse at TescoThe UK's leading supermarket failed to update its auto-tweets when it was embroiled in the horse meat scandal earlier this year. The pre-scheduled tweet read: "It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets."
Thousands of users complained about the tweet and @UKTesco later responded: "I'm terribly sorry. That tweet was scheduled before we knew of the current situation. We'd never intend to make light of it."
The following day, Tesco placed full-page adverts in several national newspapers to apologise for the "unacceptable" situation, vowing to ensure it "never happens again".
5. McDonald's cautionary tale
McDonald's sponsored the hashtag #McDStories in January 2012, asking users to tweet in about positive dining experiences at its restaurants. Instead, respondents joked about obesity and dog food.
The burger company pulled the campaign within two hours but users were still tweeting the abandoned hashtag a week after it was removed.
6. Counterfeit Burger King
In February, the popular burger franchise fell foul to some hacktivists who changed Burger King's account name to McDonald's and added a new bio that stated, "Just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped =[ FREEDOM IS FAILURE."
"Look for McDonald's in a hood near you!"
This was followed by a string of fake tweets containing racial slurs, obscenities and references to drugs.
McDonald's drew further attention to the plight of its rival by tweeting: "We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."
7. Quantas BashtagBritish Airways isn't the only airline to nosedive in the social media stakes. In 2011, Qantas Airways asked customers to write in about their dream in-flight experiences using the hashtag #QuantasLuxury. Instead of being sent wistful flights of fancy, the airline received a deluge of negative posts, mostly concerning the carrier's industrial disputes with three unions, which resulted in the grounding of the entire Qantas fleet on October 29.
Quantas is a serial offender on the social media slip-up list. It once ran a Rugby Union competition that asked Wallabies fans to paint their faces black to win a prize.
8. Disobeying His Master's Voice
In January this year, a social media exec for music chain HMV tweeted the mass firing of 190 staff live from HMV's proprietary account. The first tweet announced: ""We're tweeting live from HR where we're all being fired! Exciting!!!", follwed by: "There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand".
Unfortunately for HMV, even its inability to lock the outgoing staff out of the social network was broadcast to the masses. The rogue @hmvtweets tweeter wrote: "Just overheard our Marketing Director (he's staying, folks!) ask 'How do I shut down Twitter?'"
9. Amy's Baking Company gets burnt
Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, was featured in an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, which aired on May 10th, 2013. It was the first time Mr Ramsay had walked off the show.
The episode prompted a surge of negative feedback on the restaurant's Facebook page. The two owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo reacted by posting a rant against the "haters" who were crippling their business. The social media storm spilled out onto Reddit and Yelp, with the Bouzaglos responding to disgruntled users using foul language and all-caps.
There were nearly 1,000 comments posted to Reddit before the thread was removed and commenting was disabled.
10. Home Depot
When Home Depot tweeted the image below to its 165,000 or so users in November, the US-based DIY store received hundreds of tweets accusing the chain of racism.
Home Depot tried to calm the wrathful Twittersphere with a series of apology tweets: "We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it" but the image was retweeted thousands of times nonetheless.