OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

A faux pas is a violation of accepted social norms. Although these norms can vary wildly from one culture to another, their basic premise is “be respectful of others”.

The first time I had dinner with my then future mother-in-law, I committed a dinner etiquette faux pas (elbow on table if you must know). She didn’t say a word but her eyes and look communicated volumes. It’s a scene I’ll never forget.  Luckily, in time, I was able to redeem myself and the transgression was quickly forgotten.

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

Best to be on your best behavior

In today’s connected world, you virtual actions are documented and magnified.  A faux pas can be greatly amplified and spiral out of control.  Given the immediacy and reach of social media, having basic rules of thumb around social media do’s and don’ts is more than a good idea.  You should know and follow your company conduct guidelines.  Social Media is an extension of these guidelines.

  • Use your best judgment. If you aren’t sure whether what you are about to post is appropriate, review it carefully and question what you’ve written with an objective mind. (I like to think of my mother-in-law in this case. I ask myself: would she approve?)
  • Respect your audience
  • Respect copyright, fair use and disclosure laws
  • Engage and contribute

Find numerous social media code of conduct examples here via Chris Boudreaux of SocialMediaGovernance.com  

Sometimes it’s easier to learn from the mistakes of others.  Following is a social media “best of” faux pas compilation.  I invite you to add to this #oops list.


Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

Here’s Proof That Social Media Blunders Have Real Consequences via Business Insider

A must see slide presentation by 22 Squared.  It offers case studies on some of the biggest social media catastrophes in recent years.


Marketing’s Biggest Social Media Blunders of 2011 via Advertising Age.

A Top 10 Social Media Blunders list that is both entertaining and disheartening.


    1. Weinergate : why flashing online is not a good idea
    2. Dissing Detroit Drivers : @ChryslerAutos drops the F-bomb
    3. Kenneth Cole Puts Shoe In Mouth : sarcasm often leads to controversy
    4. Gottfried Gets The Hook : jokes in incredibly bad taste
    5. Quantas Grounds Dreams : unhappy union workers hijack #QantasLuxury
    6. Shooting An Elephant : GoDaddy exec tweets a link to a video of himself shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe
    7. Netflixs : forgets to obtain @Quikster Twitter handle
    8. Kutcher Has Paterno’s Back : Ashton Kutcher goes off the rails
    9. Micky’s Big Mouth : not playing by the rules can be costly
    10. Ragu Incites Backlash : Dads fight back

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

Top 12 Social Media Blunders of 2011 via Inc.

Inc’s and Advertising Age share some of the same nominees.  Inc’s other five blunder candidates are:

  1. @WhatsTrending : webshow dies following falsely tweeting of Steve Jobs passing while he was still living
  2. Newt Gingrich : buying fake followers doesn’t pay off
  3. Facebook :  Zuckerberg learns that Facebook isn’t private
  4. Cain : presidential campaign video gone viral
  5. Lowe’s : learns the importance of monitoring its social media accounts … even on the weekends

2012 Faux Pas Candidates might include some of the following:


Olympics-Social media ban imposed on gun-slinging swimmers – by Reuters on Yahoo!Sports

How following Mad Men backfired for the real Jaguar – by Ivor Tossell via The Globe and Mail

Think Sexism Is Dead? Read This Tech Company’s Tweet – by Bianca Bosker via The Huffington Post

  • ASUS’ ‘Rear’ Tweet Puts Sexism Front And Center : be careful how and what you tweet from the official company account.

McDonald’s not lovin’ out of control hashtag campaign – by Matt Brownell via The Globe and Mail

How Susan G. Komen For The Cure Torpedoed Its Brand – by Laurel Sutton via FastCompany

Lessons from a Horrible Social Media Strategy: Mayo Clinic starts taking paid ads on its blog  by Mark W Schaeffer

3 thoughts on “OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

  1. Brilliant compilation! Thank you ever so much for sharing this. We are always looking for examples to illustrate when we are training clients.

      1. For us we recently shared a case study for Lowe’s use of Pinterest. The best case studies appear to be the ones that illustrate how to implement strategies. However people always enjoy seeing examples of what not to do, in this case several of the examples showed good intentions gone bad and that is a lesson for all of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s