Twitter is the perfect opportunity for brands to get closer to their customers and engage with them on a personal level. Doubling up as a customer service tool, there is more power in 140 characters than you’ve ever imagined.

The wrong message can do lasting damage to a company’s reputation, and sadly some leading brands have fallen victim to the wrong Tweet at the wrong time. One thing that can be guaranteed is that little will go unnoticed; if you know anything about Twitter you’ll understand that fools aren’t suffered gladly.

Despite being industry leading global brands, some companies have let their accounts go unmonitored, let login details fall into wrong hands or have had a foot in mouth moment, causing a social media meltdown for the whole of the internet to see.

Here are five brands that famously should have logged off.

HMV

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What happened?

This debacle followed HMV through large scale employee cuts with every step of the process broadcasted live by an intern who had control over the social media account.

When word finally reached management the order was to shut down the account. For a company desperately needing to gain market share, the lack of willingness to be transparent was a further blow.

Lesson Learnt

Educate everyone in the company about the influence of social media and be in the know about who has access to the account.

Twitter screenshot

 

 

Burger King

burger-king-twitter

What happened?

Being hacked is bad enough. Being hacked and having your visual identity replaced with your biggest competitor is even worse. The brains behind this attack made racial insults, obscenities and references to drug use- extremely damaging to a company which offers a family friendly dining experience.

Lesson Learnt

Make your password as unbeatable as Fort Knox and change it regularly so that previous staff members can’t access it after they’ve left the company.

Twitter screenshot 

 

 

 

Ryanair

ryanairphwoar

What happened?

Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair is famous for his very non PC comments and arrogant attitude. When faced with a Twiter Q and A session with the aim to soften his image, Michael typically lived up to his reputation, making sexiest and confrontational remarks. He also forgot to use the hashtag associated with the live chat showing his lack of knowledge of the platform.

Lesson Learnt

If you are using Twitter as a PR exercise make sure that whoever is taking charge has been prepped. Also make sure they are up to scratch on Twitter best practice. Not only did Michael forget to use the hashtag but he made all of his responses visible to all of Ryanair’s followers.

Twitter screenshot 

Tesco

tesco twitter horse joke   Google Search

What happened?

No one could miss the horse meat scandal that surrounded Tesco and some other supermarkets last year which caused massive uproar and a lack in trust from customers. Although Tesco withdrew the products in question almost immediately, the damage was already done, which was why the Tweet below caused such outrage when it appeared having been innocently pre scheduled.

Lesson Learnt

Bulk scheduling tweets is an excellent time saving device and means you don’t have to be glued to your computer. Always review them the day they are due to appear as topical events can allow them be taken in a different context.

Twitter screenshot

Urban Outfitters

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What happened?

When a topic gets trending it’s good to get involved; just make sure you aren’t offending people who are currently trying to deal with a natural disaster. A sporting event, a Royal birth, you name it marketers have jumped on the bandwagon of all these events to sell, sell, sell, but linking in with Hurricane Sandy was a case of distaste taken too far. Urban Outfitters offered free shipping when “ALLSOGGY” was entered as a promotional code promoted via Twitter.

Lesson Learnt

Be considerate about the promotional campaigns you share via social media, if you are likely to offend stay clear.

Twitter screenshot

Unless you want a PR disaster on your hands, be cautious about who is saying what on your company accounts, it could do irreversible damage.

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