Social media can be a marketer's best friend or worst enemy. Consider the year's social media-fueled nightmares.
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No year would be complete without a roundup of memorable social media meltdowns, from Facebook faux pas to epic Twitter tirades. We're not talking about ill-considered pictures, or posts that reveal you skipped the family picnic and lied about it. We're talking about big brands -- with much to lose.
Brands had plenty of opportunities to learn from last year's mistakes. In 2012, Chick-Fil-A found itself engulfed in two social media disasters after its CEO famously spoke out against same-sex marriage. Facebook users promptly plastered its page with comments denouncing the restaurant chain, and it later fielded accusations that it created a fake Facebook account to come to the company's defense.
In 2012, KitchenAid caused a stir after an employee mistakenly posted an anti-Obama tweet under the corporate Twitter account during the first presidential debate. It read: "Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 be bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president. #nbcpolitics." To the company's credit, it quickly deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
And then there were the brands that attempted -- in poor taste -- to capitalize on 2012's current events. Online store CelebBoutique posted a promotion on Twitter during the Aurora, Colo., shooting encouraging followers to purchase its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress, which was named "Aurora." And both American Apparel and Gap posted tweets during Hurricane Sandy encouraging followers to shop online if they were bored.
This year, however, brands committed some of the same social media mistakes: rogue employees posting to social networks, tasteless promotions during tragedies, and scandals caused by loose-lipped CEOs. 2013 saw a number of new and noteworthy social media scandals, too.
Take, for example, the disgruntled British Airways customer who made headlines in September after he took matters into his own hands by digging deep into his pockets.
Twitter user Hasan Syed, who was frustrated over British Airways' inaction after losing his father's luggage, spent $1,000 to promote a tweet in New York City and the United Kingdom slamming the airline. The tweet, which was seen by nearly 77,000 people, according to a screenshot Syed posted, read: "Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous."
When British Airways finally replied to Syed's tweets, it apologized for the delay and informed him that the company's "Twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT." Syed's reply: "How does a billion dollar corp only have 9-5 social media support for a business that operates 24/7?" A valid question, no doubt. Syed and British Airways reportedly connected later to resolve the missing luggage issue.
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