3 Ways Social Media Failed for Businesses

by on February 4, 2013

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Social media. It’s a huge phrase on the internet. It carries a lot of weight. Look at some of the numbers:

  • Over 1.06 billion active Facebook accounts.
  • Over 400 million Google+ accounts.
  • 36% of global internet users have a Twitter account.

Also, you might be surprised to learn that 78% of US marketers plan to utilise their customer’s social media data in order to drive their future campaigns over 2013.

So, we know social platforms are very much in the spotlight. Which is why businesses should be using them for the very reasons mentioned above to drive revenue, trust and brand awareness.

Doing it right

You don’t want to hear “social media failed”. You can’t just decide one day to just ‘have’ social media. It takes time and effort to create a well-crafted social campaign. Well, it takes time if you want it done right. Social can be a very powerful tool for good, but it can also go the other route if you let your guard down.


At the end of February 2013, a British entertainment retailer went into administration. With the staff uncertain as to the safety of their jobs, it became clear that the social media team were to be made redundant at HMV HQ; a member of staff took it upon themselves to tweet in real time, updates about the situation.

It seems that the directors panicked and tried to delete the tweets. This only served to make the situation worse, as news agencies picked up on the story and the negative backlash it was having on the company.


More amusing, though still negative in the outcome, another British company failed to use Twitter appropriately also last month. Tesco, a major supermarket chain, was found to be selling beef burgers with traces of horse DNA contained.

A pre-set tweet was then posted after the story broke.


This only serves to highlight that social media must be monitored and maintained at all times for businesses.

Thomas Cook

The exposure that social media affords is an important aspect when it comes to PR. Thomas Cook, a UK holiday firm, was contacted by a man named Thomas Cook. He jokingly made reference that he has had a lifetime of ridicule for having the same name, and asked for a free weekend to Paris.

He was swiftly rebuffed on the Facebook page. This was met with derision as Thomas Cook failed to act on such a great PR opportunity.

A rival company then stepped in and posted on the Facebook page that they would be willing to offer an entire week in Paris for Mr Cook and a friend.

Over 16,000 people ‘liked’ this response. The conversation was swiftly deleted by Thomas Cook.

tesco tweet

These examples highlight that Social Media must be used in the right way, at the right time, for any business. Remember, the world is watching.

Written by Halit Bozdogan on behalf of custard.co.uk, a Greater Manchester agency specialising in social media and great campaigns, both on and offline.

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