Social Media faux-pas – Why Social Media Marketing is like Racing with Raw Eggs

Appealing to audiences with just the right message to convey the identity of your brand and its services/ products is a challenge. In addition to potentially making messages too boring or losing them completely through focussing on what the company desires (rather than delivering what customers want), there is always the risk of dropping the egg and alienating consumers through simple mistakes.

Here are a few major Social Media faux-pas companies should avoid.

Lost in Translation

International messages all too often get lost or seriously throw egg on your face if translations are done ‘on the cheap’. Using auto-translators or people who do not know the finer nuances of a language and its culture can cause serious upsets. Two excellent examples of mechanical translations not taking cultural context into consideration and subsequently causing companies to suffer include KFC and Parker Pens’ slogans.

KFC – Kentucky Fried Chicken’s famous ‘Finger-lickin’ good’ was, for its first Chinese franchise, translated into a statement threatening consumers with their fingers being eaten off. A frightening thought indeed.

Parker Pens – Parker’s statement that pens do not leak in pockets and therefore prevent embarrassment was translated rather carelessly into Spanish, informing potential customers that the lack of leakage meant pens would not make women pregnant. No patter of tiny pen-feet, then.

Losing Humanity

Forming connections with audiences through meaningful messages allows consumers to work out how/ why services/ products are of value to them. A global survey (Trust in Advertising; Nielsen) revealed that 46{1884f1fad642c0a335e320fbf36199da8501940de449f82beb0b1edf5c3b25f3} of participants responded better to messages related to real-life situations, while 47{1884f1fad642c0a335e320fbf36199da8501940de449f82beb0b1edf5c3b25f3} responded more enthusiastically to humorous messages. Care is, however, advised, as messages that appear thoughtless can seriously hurt your reputation.

AT&T’s tweet related to the 9/11 outrage, for example, was received exceptionally badly and deleted en-masse by consumers, as was KMart’s tweet sent to pay respect to the victims of a shooting incident in Newtown, Connecticut, which shamelessly (and supposedly accidentally) plugged #SMH, a promotional hashtag.

Carelessly using Features

Another way of losing respect is to shamelessly use Social Media features to plug services/ products. Comment and chat features, for instance, are meant to aid in building relationships, not for going on endlessly about your brand’s products. Automated responses are a real danger, as they can all too easily thank consumers for their support even after unpleasant comments, revealing insincerity and lack of attentiveness to what customers have to say.

As a Twitter campaign by McDonalds (#McDStories) clearly highlighted, hashtags can also go terribly wrong. In this instance, McD wanted consumers to share happy McDonalds’ tales/ nostalgic memories. Instead, consumers shared their most horrific, unfortunate experiences.

Another hashtag that really wasn’t thought out was the launch of Susan Boyle’s new album. ‘Susan Album Party’ produced an unexpected hashtag that Twitter users jumped on – for all the wrong reasons. #Susanalbumparty…. Say no more!


In short, if you want to bring your ‘eggs’ safely home, careful consideration of all your message’s aspects (who, what and how) is vi

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