Twitter. Universally loved. Universally hated. One thing is for sure: whether you love or loathe Twitter, it is an essential tool for brands.
Along with Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, Twitter is an indispensable communications channel for brands and businesses alike to maximize their audience reach and keep up-to-date with current trends. The use of hashtags, viral topics or overnight trends, the appropriateness of when and what to post, as well as the potential backlash over unpopular tweets are all areas in which brands historically struggle with. Trends have a tendency to be misinterpreted and incorrectly used, especially by those who are not ‘natives’ in the social media world. More often than not, these are the mistakes of brands and businesses which, unlike the millennials who created them, attempt to jump-in on trends without fully understanding them. Let’s take a look at a few recent nightmares.
Earlier this month, DiGiorno fell victim to the ever-illusive use of hashtags, causing a scandal in which they inappropriately used a hashtag that simply did not mean what they thought it meant.
Tweeting “#WhyIStayed You had pizza”, DiGiorno hoped to make a funny statement about the importance of pizza in customer’s lives. What they didn’t realize was that the #WhyIStayed hashtag actually refers to a domestic violence campaign discussing the reasons and justifications for why women stayed with, or left, their abusers. By incorrectly using the hashtag, DiGiorno caused offense to millions of followers by undermining the importance behind domestic violence issues in an accidental parody. Moral of the story? Research your hashtags to understand the context they really come from before you post. Read more on this story at bit.ly/1Bpy7TN
When NOT to Post
It is a common misconception that just because brands and businesses have profiles like individual people, they should act like individual people on social media. And while they often do act like people, there are some moments when the twitter-verse would really rather have brands stay brands. 9/11 was one of those days.
Feeling the need to tweet in respect for the nation’s loss, plenty of brands took to Twitter to send out messages respectfully noting the day and its tragedy, often including the hashtag, #neverforget. Only a few brands made the egregious mistake of years past by using the day as a ‘holiday’ for discounts and promotions, yet audiences were still displeased with the trend of brands tweeting at all.
Take for example, Huggies’ tweet which intended no disrespect or offense. Yet the backlash over the tweet (and others like it) was harsh. Users began parodying Huggies’ products in relation to 9/11, and criticizing the brand for thinking it had a role in the 9/11 conversation. Twitter user Sean Bonner explained to AdWeek that the problem is simple. “Brands are not people. Brands do not have emotions or memories or condolences or heartbreak. People have those things, and when a brand tries to jump into that conversation, it’s marketing. And… when talking about a tragedy that resulted in way too many people actually dying, it’s icky.”
Check out other brand’s 9/11 tweets and read more here: bit.ly/1qVpA96
As with any advertising message, the rules are generally clear: try not to offend anyone. And just because Twitter presents a more casual atmosphere for branded communications does not mean it differs from that rule. The same restrictions apply: If you wouldn’t put it on an ad, press release, public statement, marketing campaign, etc, don’t put it on Twitter. Yet far too many brands are still figuring out that walking the line between funny, relevant, and offensive may generate more negative backlash than they had bargained for in 250 characters. Whether bordering on political commentary, touching on sensitive issues with insensitivity, or just plain obnoxious statements, brands have had their fair share of ridiculous – and costly – tweeting mistakes. Check out a couple below or enjoy the full compilation at bit.ly/Z3nOau.
Via AdWeek, and Twitter
Feature photo credit to ShutterStock and Ivelin Radkov
AP: Kirstie Chapman
Mood: Highly Amused