Facebook Gone Wrong: 5 Fails Brands Can Learn From

They say there’s a fine line between insanity and genius. You could say the same fine line exists between brilliance and failure on the colossal social network that is Facebook. Taking risks with posts on Facebook can sometimes help a brand take their social media presence to the next level. However, those same risks, if not calculated, can put a brand on Page 6 for all the wrong reasons.

Take notes on these 5 Facebook fails, and the very valuable lessons brands can learn from them.

Cheerios and GMO’s

Where other brands find themselves on this disaster list for what they posted on social media, Cheerios’ fiasco here is actually a reflection of their company politics. After the manufacturer General Mills boldly supported legislation protecting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), Cheerios’ Facebook page became (and still is) a battleground for the controversial topic.

Facebook Gone Wrong: 5 Fails Brands Can Learn From

Not exactly the ingredient to look for in a breakfast cereal, ehh?

The takeaway from Cheerios is a simple message of awareness: be aware of the relationship between the political statements from your brand, and the potential fallout with your social media audience. Your fans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., have their own opinions and beliefs. Don’t underestimate the effects a move into politics or religion can have on your brand, especially in the social media world, where people aren’t afraid to voice and post their opinion.

Pepsi Max and Voodoo Ronaldo

Insulting an entire group of people is never the best idea. But when that group of people is an entire country of Portuguese soccer fans, you will find yourself drowning in Portuguese wine. (And not the good kind either.)

Pepsi Max took a serious risk and ultimately found themselves on this list thanks to a series of Facebook photo ads that featured Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo as a voodoo doll in a variety of uncomfortable positions, including bound to a railroad track. Ouch!

Facebook Gone Wrong: 5 Fails Brands Can Learn From

Needless to say, the Portuguese were, for a lack of better words, furious. A Portuguese anti-Pepsi Facebook group managed to accrue 100,000 fans in a single day, and Pepsi was forced to apologize and pull the ads.

Anytime you’re planning a new Facebook campaign, make sure to look at your creative from every angle, but especially how it will translate overseas. How will people who don’t share your customs, background or beliefs respond? It may be necessary to alter the copy, or don’t even launch the ads altogether to avoid 100,000 angry Facebook users, and days of bad press.

7-Eleven and Mental Health Month

7-Eleven had a serious case of mistaken identity when they thought it was clever to make a Facebook comment on mental health. Although some onlookers found the convenient store’s post funny, it sparked plenty of angry commenters, and created plenty of negative buzz for the brand.

7-eleven-facebook-fail13

If you’re going to make a play around a holiday, awareness month, or a cause through your brand’s Facebook page, it’s best to keep things happy and light, especially if the holiday is completely unrelated to your business.

Oxiclean and Begging

Asking for a like on Facebook is such an outdated social media strategy and one that doesn’t generate sincere interactions. Judging by this post from April 2013, Oxiclean clearly needs to clean up their social media strategy.

Facebook Gone Wrong: 5 Fails Brands Can Learn From

Not only did Oxiclean ask for a “like” right in their copy, but they also attempted to align their cleaning product with Tax Day. Sorry Oxiclean, but you reek of desperation, not cleanliness! (We did it again!)

Instead of asking fans for a like, provide valuable content, and pose a question in your copy that provokes real engagement. If you can make fans like and comment on your Facebook posts purely because they are engaged and contributing to your conversation starters, you’ve succeeded!

This also brings up another point: why does Oxiclean want to align themselves with one of the most dreaded holidays of the year? Clean it up Oxiclean! (Pun intended.)

Volkswagen and New Years Resolutions

We’ve seen negative comments regarding GMO’s on the Cheerios Facebook page become a regular thing, but what about when a brand pretty much asks for fans to point out their shortcomings?

To celebrate a new year, Volkswagen did a thing most brands do: they predictably played off of New Years, by asking followers what the company’s New Years resolution should be. What they couldn’t predict however, was that the simple Facebook post would become a forum for activists to point out Volkswagen’s questionable campaigning against climate laws, and their generally un-environmental company philosophies.

vw_greenpeace_facebook

Again, be aware of how politics can affect a social media presence. If you think fans could have an unfavorable opinion of you, leaving Facebook posts as open-ended as “what should our New Year’s Resolution be?” is probably not the brightest idea. Tighten up controversial political topics, or tread lightly on social media.

Facebook is a great space for brands to communicate and share information with their audience. But it is also a the perfect arena for brands to look like complete losers! If you take your time, double-check creative and consider how others might receive your content on social media, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever experience a Facebook fail like these!

 

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