3 Social Media Fails To Learn From



“People love controversy, and I’m controversial,” – Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Love him or hate him he’s a 100% right and I’m slowly starting to believe this works wonders on social media networks. In this post, I’m going to be listing three examples of social media fails and their effects on the brand/person. Now I’m not judging their actions, just simply stating the situation and the results of that unfortunate event. The idea for this post came to me after reading Roger McNamee’s 5 Tips for Facebook Marketing Success on mashable and specifically his point about taking risks on social networks.

1. AT&T Fail

AT&T was victim of posting a 9/11 tribute that was found by many to be distasteful. The tweet was simple, but the image attached with it had a smartphone taking a picture of the two light beams that stand in place of the previous skyscrapers in New York.

(Credit: Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET)
(Credit: Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET)

Which prompted the following tweet:


And a formal apology from the CEO the next day stating  “It is a day that should never be forgotten and never, ever commercialized.”

Result: Although this was unintentional in my mind, take a look at their twitter followers chart for the past week: AT&T Twitter followers Sep 8 -Sep 16 Its clear there’s a spike for September 11th, on average AT&T gets around 600 new followers per day. But on the day of the incident they got almost double that at 1,104 new followers.

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2. Du Fail

This is by far my favorite one. Last month Du committed the ultimate social media sin which has been written about here, here, here and here. Basically, Du decided to upgrade customer’s services and charge them more without notifying them (ah the beauties of operating in a controlled market). And when people starting asking questions, Du’s social media team hit back… Hard!

Du's tweet fail
via: tbreak.ae, @Kfakhouri

Given the fact that customers, in most cases, don’t have an option to switch between the telecom providers in the UAE, Du’s response was the equivalent to telling a customer “Go F#ck Yourself”. Du quickly reacted and apologized,

But it was too late the tweet was published on newspapers and the a lot of people started complaining, which resulted in Du giving customers a three month grace period to opt out of the the price hike.


du twitter followers
via: tbreak,ae @WiziOppaa

The above screenshot was taken on August 6, when Du had 67.5K followers, currently they have over 73.6K Followers, a 6K increase in a month. And take a look at their facebook page interactions:

du Facebook analytics

Notice at the beginning of August how much people were talking about them, and then a little over a week after the incident a sharp decline back to being boring again. Granted people were probably complaining and talking negatively about them but hey at least they were popular for a week!

3. Pax Dickinson’s Fail

This one’s quite interesting, it’s a great example of taking advantage of the situation and turning a bad thing in your favor. For those of you who don’t know the story, Pat was the CTO at Business Insider and was recently fired over his tweets some even dating back to three years. But long story short, his views were somewhat horibble and he practically got fired for being an ass on twitter.

He took his new fame and quickly started doing interviews and promoting his new startup glimpse everywhere. Which makes me wonder if he had planned this all along or if it was just taking advantage of the situation, I guess we won’t know but still interesting nevertheless.


paxdickinson twitter followers

He actually gained over 1,200 followers in two days almost doubling his followers base.

Conclusion & Warning

Social media is just that being social, that being said you don’t have to be a horrible person (or brand) to get the attention of people. If you’re being controversial just for the sake of being controversial then remember the two following things:

  1. Controversy means headlines, not momentum so how you deal with this press is very crucial
  2. Your followers will sense it and quickly brand you as a poser and won’t get much respect from them.

If for some reason you do find yourself in a situation where you believe what you’ve done was wrong, then you should take responsibility and man up to it. Just like AT&T and Du did, its normal, shit happens and people carry on.

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Social Media Fail Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Having worked with top digital agencies and companies in the MENA region for the past number of years I'm now looking now to venture on my own with small side projects in online, SaaS products. Things I like include: gaming, sports, technology, social media, start ups, funny things and reading about new bright ideas.