Social media errors to avoid

Social media can generate unexpected results.

You have a plan or an idea and sometimes we get it wrong and don’t anticipate the outcomes. With all aspects of marketing, testing should take place. Many companies ‘test’ in a live environment and are surprised by the response.

This is a collection of social media errors to avoid. I’d love to know what errors you’ve uncovered. 

Please tweet me @annmariehanlon or add your comments to the end of this article if you have other examples you’d like to share.

3 Key blunders to avoid

  1. Avoid using irrelevant trending hashtags
  2. Do research hashtag ideas
  3. Do protect the company Twitter account



Used irrelevant trending hashtags

The furniture store Habitat was keen to build followers on Twitter. The more followers you have, the greater chance you have of your messages being heard.

One way to gain followers is to use specific keywords. In Twitter a keyword is created by using the hashtag symbol (this used to be called the ‘gate’ on a telephone).

Habitat used ‘breaking news’ hashtags – these are called ‘trending hashtags’ and in 2009, when the election was taking place in Iran and a large number of people lost their lives or were injured. So Habitat started adding these hashtags to its tweets, saying;

#iranelection Our totally desirable Spring collection now has 20% off 

Habitat removed the offending tweets, but still hasn’t managed to sort out its Twitter page. And if you Google ‘Habitat + Twitter@ you can see how it was reported by the BBC and many others.

Today the most often repeated word on the Habitat Twitter page is ‘sorry’ as they still haven’t worked out how to use Twitter and manage customer care and promotions.



Didn’t research hashtag idea

McDonald's used the hashtag #McDStories seeking good news and positive stories about the brand and their food, but this backfired when critics shared exactly what they thought online.


Didn’t research hashtag idea

The high-class UK supermarket Waitrose embraced twitter to find out reasons why people shopped with them. They invited users on the site to complete the Tweet “I shop at Waitrose because…,” encouraging them to use the hashtag “#WaitroseReasons” to finish their responses. However this backfired.

One Twitter user posted: “I shop at Waitrose because I think food must automatically be better if it costs three times as much,” whilst another scathingly commented: “I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people.”

This wasn’t seen as a complete disaster and Waitrose managed it better, thanking everyone for making them smile.


Didn’t protect twitter account / Consider the people factor when managing mass redundancies

The troubled high street music retailer recently made 100+ members of staff redundant at the same time. One 21 year old staff member hijacked the main twitter account and gave a blow by blow account of the process.

The Twitter account was closed within 20 minutes, but the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring can still be searched via Google and Twitter as it was repeated by others.

Got any others? Do share!