This is always a horrible time of the year.

On Friday, 11 September 2015, we will be looking back at one of the worst terrorist atrocities that the world has ever seen.

As time passes the world continues to remember in its own way through many dignified, touching services. But as social media continues to evolve there are a lot more ways for people to show their ignorance off, too.


Never Forget: Tragedy Isn't A Social Media Opportunity


Social media has been in my sights recently, because I feel there’s still a lot of things the networks themselves have to do to prevent the spread of misinformation and ignorance.

I’m not talking about censorship by any means. But when a Facebook page (by Britain First) does everything it can to deliberately spread antagonism and lies about migrants while getting thousands of likes and shares in the process then something is seriously wrong.

But some people don’t set out to cause upset on the internet. Sadly, 9/11 is one of those times when people – especially brands – can wildly misjudge the public mood and potentially ruin their reputation for ever.

What’s the worst thing you’ve seen a brand do on social media? How did it affect them and did it make you think about your own posts? Let me know in the comments section below.

Social suicide

The Britain First example above was totally abhorrent and is part of the reason I want to write about this. It’s become a brand in its own right and is a serious source of bitterness in the social sphere. (The true story can be found here, incidentally.)

But there was another recent marketing example from Bic across social media which nearly caused an earthquake with the amount of jaws that hit the floor. Originally an advert for the South African market it instantly spread across the world and got slated.

The campaign was apparently designed to celebrate Women’s Day but scored a monumental own-goal with a message that was perceived by the majority who viewed it to be incredibly sexist.

Women were encouraged to ‘Think like a man’ leading Bic to publish a grovelling apology. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but that this ad saw the light of day still boggles the mind when it was designed to supposedly celebrate an international cause.

Out of touch

Is it brands being ignorant? Is it a misunderstanding of the medium and what it represents? Whatever it is it can be very dangerous.

Let’s get back to my opening example of the September 11 attacks. It’s something I’ve mentioned previously but, as the years roll by, more and more brands out there feel that it’s become a holiday to celebrate – similar to a Black Friday – and are using it for promotional purposes.


Bic's sexist Women's Day social media message


They’ve already started to pop up on Twitter in the last couple of days. It’s mainly an American thing but, as the Bic example also shows, it’s a problem that’s endemic and has its own correlation in every country on the planet.

Closer to home charity The Dignity Project openly called author J.K. Rowling ‘a bitch’ after she donated money to the anti-independence Better Together campaign. After an enormous outcry the response was to insist that their Twitter account was hacked.

For brands the danger of misusing social media doesn’t just come from spreading misinformation or misreading a campaign meant for the public. Possibly the biggest danger is to use a professional account as though it were their own, voicing personal opinions and using it for an unintended purpose.

Will there ever be a time when people can pick and choose what they want to see on social media, or does that completely defeat the purpose? Let me know below!

3 tips to tighten your social standing

It is, though, easy to help countenance such mistakes and put in place proper communications – both internal and external – to make sure the message is safe, consistent, and that any potential damage can be limited:

#1 In-house guidelines

As I’ve highlighted before social media isn’t a job that can be underestimated. It’s not a job to plonk students in and give them no budget or training because they use Facebook more than you. Whoever you hire it’s essential that you draw up guidelines and in-house rules or policies to help them create the brand’s voice across a number of platforms as well as to give them information and protocol in the event of a crisis. Your account was hacked? Give it a rest…


3 tips to tighten your social standing

#2 Closely work between departments

The world of social media isn’t a single conscious. It’s a world mixed with opinions, creativity, and a lot of fluff. So it makes sense for a number of departments to communicate with the social media team, to get a fair reflection of your voice as a company and to also get more ideas of things to post. If a lot of people were able to weigh in with their opinions on the Bic Women’s Day campaign, it still may have been posted but I believe internal would have thought twice about it.

#3 Be honest!

Again with Bic; a lot of the controversy wasn’t just about the message the ad sent out but because their initial apology (which has since been deleted) was incredibly half-hearted. The apology that can be found online now is the abridged version, with some pointing out that Bic has found it hard to apologise in the past for mistakes it’s made. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to social. Misjudging the mood with a poor apology only makes the situation worse and sticks like glue.

A lot of the time social media marketing boils down to common sense, but it’s still staggering to see how many companies get it consistently wrong.

Outsourcing your social media is one solution; if you do decide to do it in-house, though, communication with your social team is just as important as their communication with potential customers.

If you’d like to learn more about social media management and how it can help to boost word of your brand contact us now and speak to a Webpresence representative today!

(Image: Bandt)