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Learn from their social media mistakes

Learn from their social media mistakes

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High profile Twitter mistakes by two big brands that small businesses can learn from

By now, the benefits that social media can have on your business has been well documented. It offers a platform for you to show your expertise, personality and speciality to an almost unlimited audience of people potentially from all over the world.

However, you must be careful. Stepping a foot wrong on social media can also have dramatic effects for you and your business, as some big brands are discovering.

You can also read more about how to avoid some of the most simple, yet common, mistakes in our blog post Tweeting Troubles.

A single tweet wiped $8bn off Twitter’s value

On the 7th of November, 2013, Twitter had its worst day on Wall Street since it began, when it accidentally released its publication of earnings results early and had it promoted through its own service.

Twitter was due to announce its earnings for the first quarter of the year after close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, allowing traders to digest the news, sleep on it and then begin trading again the next day with a clear head. However, some one released the information early on an investor relations website. No one really noticed an error, until a tweet went out containing the information, and the #breaking, that is.  The tweet drew the attention of the investors while the markets were still trading, and resulted in the stock losing more than $8bn (£5bn), or 25% of its opening price.

To put this into perspective, at the lowest point, Twitter had the total value of Sainsbury’s swiped off its total share price.

The lesson: Businesses often forget how visible social media can be. If there is information online, it will inevitably end up on social media – especially if it is interesting, problematic or confrontational. An article or commentary from years ago can, at any point, re-circulate and generate interest on social media – which can be incredibly positive, but also incredibly damaging if it’s the wrong type of information.

Take a look back through the information on your website and make sure that it’s all appropriate and truthful. If Twitter can lose over $8bn of value through a single tweet, small businesses have to pay attention too.

#McDStories hashtag hi-jack
One of the highest profile hashtag #fails from one of the big brands within the last few years came from McDonalds, who used Twitter’s promoted tweets feature to encourage Twitter users to share their positive experiences of the brand using a hashtag #McDStories. However, within minutes, the hashtag was hi-jacked by users who didn’t want to post positive messages at all, but in fact wanted to tell the horror stories, complain and share negative news stories about the brand.

Within the hour, the hashtag was trending globally, and within two hours McDonald’s removed the promoted tweet completely – but they couldn’t control the message. Twitter users continued to use the hashtag to tell their stories for several days afterwards, and the tweets were overwhelmingly negative. McDonalds lost a lot of their good reputation, and had to deal with a full blown customer crisis, simply by overestimating the public mood about their brand.

The lesson: As a small business, it’s essential for you to get the feedback that you need from your customers so that you can improve, and the social sphere is a great place for those conversations to happen. However, you must ensure that they take place in a controlled way. McDonalds lost control of their brand reputation online in an instant simply by choosing the wrong hashtag, and that loss of control was detrimental.

You should be wary of asking incredibly open ended questions, or posting anything that you don’t believe is a hundred percent true.  For example, don’t state that your service is the ‘best on the Island’ if you know that customers have been complaining about quality recently, as they’re normally poised online to argue with you in the comment section. Keep control of the message on your social media, and you won’t make the same mistake as McDonald’s did.
If you are struggling with your social media, finding difficulty in presenting your message, or just want to grow your following and increase engagement online, it may be worth bringing in the experts. Contact Social Heroes today to see how we can help you with your social media management.


Follow Shauna Madden:

Shauna is the Head of Content for Social Heroes. She has spent several years spearheading PR campaigns for giant companies in the North of the UK with incredible results.