It’s important to remember that rarely do things go unseen on the internet.

Social media is the perfect place to promote your product or service but it’s important to remember the power and reach it has on your desired consumer.

The heightened influence of your online presence is a result of how ingrained social media marketing has become in the modern business world.

No longer is it beneficial for small businesses to neglect their virtual presence as it is one of the first places of contact, insight, and information for most consumers in this digital age.

Utilising your social media platforms is essential to expand and grow your brand awareness. Social media failures can be a make or break for your small business, not only damaging your reputation but steering away existing and potential customers. 

The good news, social media fails are avoidable and by taking these examples of when businesses went wrong on social media into account, you too can prevent disaster for your brand image. 

Here’s how you can avoid going viral for the wrong reasons: 

1. Aldi #AldiPoorestDayChallenge

Image from BuzzFeed news

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool in today’s highly engaged online communities. However, as a business owner, it’s vital to know when engaging with an influencer is the right brand move.

Aldi paid an Instagram influencer to participate in their ‘online challenge’ to ‘feed your family for £25’ and created the hashtag #AldiPoorestDayChallenge for the campaign. It launched in January to share budget tips for January 24th – dubbed ‘the poorest day of the year’.

The challenge was deemed highly out of touch and offensive to many UK citizens as the struggles of food poverty and the cost-of-living crisis remains prominent on and offline. What’s more, there are many who have £25 or often less every week to feed their family, not just the week of January 24th.

Taking into consideration Aldi’s target audience, this campaign was in poor taste and dismissed the everyday struggles of many people. 

The learning outcome of this? Before launching any type of online incentive, ensure it aligns accurately with your brand values and mission. Joining online trends might not always be the right move for your small business. 

2. Adidas’ Boston Marathon Email 

Image from Boston Magazine

The 2013 Boston Marathon is known internationally for the terrorist attack that occurred during the race.

Two bombs detonated, killing 3 people, injuring many and leaving 16 victims with lost limbs. 

Adidas’ email marketing team sent out an email with the insensitive subject title, ‘Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!’

This automatic email chain was sent to all of Adidas’ customers, neglecting the terrorist offence.

The thoughtless email sparked outrage on many social media platforms, highlighting the importance of ensuring your team consistently monitors and manages your outputs in response to real-world events. 

3. Domino’s Nice Karen Campaign 

Image from Marketing News

If you haven’t already heard of the pejorative term ‘Karen’ it refers to a white, middle-aged woman who is overtly racist or obnoxious. This term gained popularity in 2020, trending across most of the social media platforms. 

Domino’s Australian and New Zealand Facebook platforms instructed consumers of the pizza chain with the name ‘Karen’ to tell Domino’s in 250 words why they’re a ‘nice Karen’, in exchange for free pizza.

This social media campaign was immediately reprimanded and criticised online for hypocrisy and a lack of understanding of minorities and under-presented individuals in society.

Domino’s’ attempt to capitalise on a trending term dramatically backfired by rewarding more privilege to an already privileged group in society. 

Diversifying your team is not only a great way to avoid campaign and online failures but deepen your understanding of ethnic and cultural nuances to connect with your consumer.

4. Clicks Hair Advertisement

Image from Quartz

The leading South African beauty and pharmaceutical retailer failed to recognise the racist stereotyping and misconceptions directed at black hair.

Clicks published a social media advertisement that showed images of African hair labelled dry, frizzy, dull, and damaged, alongside images of white hair described as normal, fine, and flat. The apparent racism and highlighting of white beauty standards sparked wide outrage across many social media platforms. 

This campaign fuelled many social media users to promote the trending hashtags #ClicksMustFall and #ClicksAdvert resulted in protests that forced the company to close several stores.

Click’s promotion of western beauty standards and racist beauty ideals lead to their online downfall. 

5. Netflix’s ‘Cuties’ 

The French-language film that premiered on Netflix in 2020, came under major scrutiny by online communities.

The film that examines the sexualisation of young girls was overshadowed by Netflix tweeting the poster to promote the film displaying young girls posing in revealing dance outfits. 

Netflix faced a major blow as the huge Twitter backlash caused #CancelNetflix to trend for days. The uproar caused many petitions to be created and ultimately, forced Netflix to publicly apologise. 

6. L’Oreal Paris support of Black Lives Matter

L’Oreal posted a graphic on Instagram, slightly editing their well-known tagline from, ‘because you’re worth it’ to ‘speaking out is worth it.’

The play on words did not resonate with many social media users causing a reaction that called out the brand for its tone-deaf response to the movement.

The vague act of support without any real-world promises went viral as an example of how not to support the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Not sure how to launch your social media presence? My New Venture is here to advise on understanding your audience, market sentiments, and the content that is right for you. Get access to the Branding & Marketing module with an entire topic about social media.  

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