Social Media Blunders of the Year

By Lori Turner-Wilson

With social media networks flying past some once unthinkable records, including surpassing 1 billion users across all major platforms, it’s not surprising that we’ve witnessed some significant brand blunders as users figure out how to properly utilize these tools.

To ensure your company avoids these potentially fatal brand missteps, check out these top blunders and lessons learned from the past year.

The Lesson: Avoid access to both personal and company profiles/handles within the same social media management tool. An employee at the Red Cross, after a late night out, mistakenly posted a tweet from the nonprofit’s Twitter profile instead of her own. The tweet read, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” Granted, selecting the wrong account is easier to do than one might think when you have access to several, which is all the more reason why social media administrators must understand the importance of maintaining professionalism in social media messaging – even when it comes to your own personal accounts.

The Lesson: Avoid capitalizing on tragedy. The Kenneth Cole brand made light of the riots in Egypt in a tweet that read “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at (link) – KC.” Consumer backlash resulted in the creation of the hash tag #boycottKennethCole.

The Lesson: Stay connected to current events. The morning after the Aurora shooting, the NRA posted a tweet that read “ Morning Shooters – Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” The organization’s social media administrator scheduled the message days earlier for later posting, failing to stay in touch with current events and remove it in light of the shootings. The backlash from Twitter was severe.

The Lesson: If the content isn’t fit for public consumption, keep it out of “social” media. Learning that the hard way was Rep. Anthony Weiner who distributed an inappropriate photo of himself via Twitter. While he thought he was sending a private message, to his surprise he tweeted it for the world to see.

Some argue that there should be a distinction between personal and work messaging on social media, but I beg to differ. When members of the public know what you do for a living, every personal media message you post through social media is out there for public consumption, interpretation and association with your company’s brand image. You are a representative of your brand. Given the public nature of social media, unfortunately there is no more “personal” messaging – the lines have blurred, like it or not.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (