Nervous of an impending social media disaster or enjoy watching a good social meltdown? Either way, social media disasters seem to be becoming increasing common even as awareness of them grows.
Following from my post last week, “How to Handle Complaints on Social Media”, this week I’m going to take a look through some of the most recent social media mishaps and some top tips on how to avoid them happening to you and your business.

Some Recent Social Media Disasters

Emily Thornberry’s ‘snobby’ Tweet

What happened:
Emily Thornberry, a Labour MP tweeted this image the day of the Rochester and Strood by-election which eventually saw UKIP gain their second parliamentary seat:

Offensive Labour Tweet from Rochester

Only days later, she has resigned from her post as MP after apologising for causing offense.

Why it was a problem:

MPs are representatives of the people. They are expected to support, care and act on behalf of their constituents and their country. Although this image was not in the constituency of Emily Thornberry, it showed blatant disrespect and snobbery to voters and individuals MPs should be representing.


Never directly or indirectly contradict the core promises of your business.
Another example of this can be found from Black Milk, a clothing company who posted an offensive tweet mocking ‘unattractive’ women while holding the company promise to promote healthy body image. Their response was also an example of how not to respond to complaints.

Luton Airport’s Offensive Picture

What Happened:

Last year, Luton Airport Posted on Facebook “Because we are such a super airport… this is what we prevent you from when it snows… Weeeee : )”, with this picture:

Luton Airport Facebook Picture

Why it was a problem:

The image included was a real life image from a plane crash in which a child was sadly killed. Making light of this horrendous situation with the caption “Weeee” as the plane slid across the icy road was unlikely to not cause offense.
Of course, it is likely the social media team was unaware of the origins of the image or the details of the situation.


Always double check your images
Where did they come from and is there anything potentially offensive related to the incident? In this case, we are dealing with an already sensitive topic so it is of even more importance to double check these details.

Twitter Exec’s Strategy Reveal

What Happened?

Anthony Noto, the Chief Financial Officer of Twitter Tweeted this last week:

Twitter Exec Strategy Revealing Tweet

It has since transpired that Anthony Noto was attempting to Direct Message a colleague but accidentally Tweeted it instead.

Why it was a problem:

I’m no expert on finance but I would guess that accidentally revealing your plans to buy out a new company to the world is not the best move. At best this is an embarrassing and unprofessional accident, an embarrassing and unprofessional mistake that could lose Twitter a major acquisition deal.


Safeguard your confidential business information from social media.
I would suggest Direct Messaging on Twitter is not an appropriate form of communication about sensitive contracts, just as it would be inappropriate to discuss business issues on Facebook Chat.

Malaysia Airlines Insensitive Tweet

What Happened:

A few days ago Malaysia Airlines were promoting their most recent promotion for end of year discounts with the following Tweet:

“What to go somewhere, but don’t know where? Our Year-End Specials might just help” #keepflying”

In light of the on-going search for plane MH370, this was probably not the best message that could be sent out to the world.

Why it was a problem:

Although the message is just a turn of phrase and it isn’t hard to see this as an easy mistake, the missing MH307 shocked the world only a matter of months ago with losing a plane full of over 300 passengers. It was insensitive and even shows a level of complacency, suggesting the airline had forgotten when it is something many of us are still struggling to forget.


Are there any negative impressions of your company at the moment – do not aggravate these!
Make a list of issues your customers may have or any unwanted press you may have gained recently. Double check your posts as not to aggravate these issues, you do not want to offend anyone or present yourself as though you are not worried about any negative stories about your business.

Don’t let yourself fall into the next social media disaster! Learn from the mistakes above. We can all try to prevent mistakes as much as possible but we all make them which is why we need to learn how to handle them when they do happen too.

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