Social media sites and the corporate world have had a rocky relationship from the get-go. Be it hijacked hashtags or inconsiderate word play, many companies have truly botched their social campaigns grasping for the marketing holy grail of “going viral”. This Friday at digifi.it we’re going to pour extra salt in the wound by repeating some of the worst social media branding fails of all time.

@England

To get the ball rolling, we’ll look back at this tweet from @England earlier this week, where the England Women’s Football team were reduced simply to their stereotypical social status as women and thus carers, rather than as athletes returning from the World Cup with a bronze medal. Many saw the tweet as a reminder of the sexism inherent in the sport, and were not afraid of pointing it out:

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Step 1 of using Twitter as a corporation is learning to understand the audience for your content. As a community, Twitter is known for it’s keyboard activism and creating a “twitter storm” around anything even mildly offensive. As a platform renowned for breaking news and leaking information, @England really should have known better. As a point of reference, here’s @FA getting it bang-on:

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Tesco

Remember back in 2013, when Tesco was found to have been selling horsemeat disguised as beef? (And vegetarians the world over started making jokes about being on their “high-horse”!) Well this otherwise seemingly innocuous tweet was delivered from the horse’s mouth in the midst of this scandal — perhaps not the best choice of words?

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McDonald’s

Another thing corporations have to bear in mind when using Twitter is that the community is extremely interactive – and very rarely will they interact in the way you’d hoped. When your critics are vast in number, it can be very easy for your branded hashtag to be taken over and abused; something that McDonald’s learned very quickly when they began the #McDStories hashtag back in 2012. Originally used to highlight their ethical suppliers and charity work, (and dare I say they also hoped customers would pipe up with their own happy #McDStories) soon users began instead tweeting their distaste for the company, including such gems as:

Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell would raise your hair. (via Twitter)

and

My memories of walking into a McDonald’s: the sensory experience of inhaling deeply from a freshly-opened can of dog food.#McDStories (via Twitter)

Since this (and other) social media fiascos endured by the brand, McDonald’s have taken the initiative to set up an Instagram account for their mascot Ronald McDonald. This indicates the brand is learning from its errors — Instagram has a much more receptive community, with much more control over consumer engagement. Ronald has also clearly taken some solid advice in terms of what content to post, as the brand has made a habit of posting more frivolous content on the instagram account – which is a lot easier to swallow than their previous, more overtly promotional posts.

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It’s always a risk for a large brand to take to Twitter for marketing purposes (aside from paid-for promotional content on the sites) and the only successful campaigns on the platform are those that are truly “social”, and spread a positive message aside from their brand’s. This advert by Coca-Cola went viral across all social networks on its release, and from that fuzzy feeling in your stomach, it’s not hard to see why.

Before you go, why not take a look at these other note-worthy social media fails:

American Apparel’s Instagram Overlook:

Blaming their 90s-kid social media manager for being born too late, American Apparel have removed and apologised for posting this stylised photo of the Challenger space shuttle exploding on 4th of July last year alongside imaginative hashtags #smoke #clouds.

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Racial Insensitivity from Minnesotan “Ethnic Clothing” store:

“Ethnic Clothing & Accessories” store Global Village Duluth celebrated Martin Luther King day in Minnesota by promoting a “25% off everything black” sale on their Facebook page.

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LG mocks Apple’s “bendgate” — from an iPhone!

The Official LG Twitter account for France tweeted regarding their “flex” phones “our smartphones don’t bend, they’re naturally curved”, following reports of the iPhone 6 Plus having an issue with a weak point in the chassis which caused bending. Unfortunately for LG, it looks as though their employees still prefer the iPhone, as the tweet was sent from Apple’s twitter app.

This gaffe highlights one point of social media marketing that everyone should learn – keep it classy people! Inter-brand fighting looks good for no-one, see here for a more positive inter-brand social media interaction.

The LA Times Sport Section doesn’t know who it’s talking about:

Okay, so newspapers aren’t strictly social media, although this incident at the LA Times was at least discussed in depth on Twitter and Facebook. As the most talked about fight in decades, you’d think writers at the LA Times would be able to identify both Mayweather and Pacquiao, but in the run-up to the fight, instead printed this photo of Tim Bradley:

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Let us know if your favourite social media fail hasn’t made the cut at @digifi_it, or in the comments section!