Biggest social media disasters of 2012

Like an accident scene, it seems we can’t resist the temptation to stop and crane our necks and gaze at others misfortune. This year’s biggest social media disasters can be best summed up in three categories:

1. Insensitive: The Gap and American Apparel take the prize here. Both retailers got caught encouraging consumers on Twitter to shop or take advantage of special discounts during Hurricane Sandy. That they appeared to be exploiting the fact that many were off work with time on their hands is quite shallow. Good on Twitter followers for calling them out on it.

2. Bad timing: The NRA (National Rifle Association) takes the award here. While it appears to have been a pre-scheduled Tweet on Hootsuite, they found themselves encouraging members to have shooting plans, it being Friday and the end of the week. Trouble was, right when the Tweet was going out was the exact same time that the mass theater shooting was taking place in Aurora, Colorado. Ouch.

Equally poorly timed, was Kitchen Aid’s suggestion that even Obama’s Grandmother knew the election results would be bad, since she died 3 days before the results were in.  This was not only bad timing, and insensitive, but also flat out stupid political game playing.

3. Customers turning on you: While this is not the first time customers have turned on a company trying to leverage gain through promoted Tweets, both McDonalds and Snickers learned the hard way that a campaign planned to promote their brands, could actually have the exact opposite effect. Have we learned nothing about the consumer owning your message folks? Unbelievable for two brands that should have known better.

For a close up personal look, check out this link. I’ve only highlighted 6. There are 4 more that made the top 10! And please do share any other disasters you know of. The rubberneck observers would love to hear about them!

Mary Charleson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured on


Subscribe to Mary’s Weekly
Five-Minute Marketing Tips.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.