7 of 15Image
Habitat UK is commonly associated with fabrics and upholstery, but came under fire when it decided to hijack hashtags to promote itself.
Hashtag are used in order to 'point' a tweet at a certain conversation. Examples include #edtech (educational technology), #jobs and #business.
What Habitat decided to do, however, was hijack any hashtags that were trending on Twitter -- and therefore popular -- to market their products. From popular television show #Trueblood to the Iranian's elections' #MOUSAV tag, nothing was safe.
The online community condemned the company for its social media actions, and it was forced to apologise to the public.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole caused outrage with a politically insensitive tweet that many believed made light of the protests in Egypt. Perhaps it was nothing out of the common way in terms of pub talk, but as social media lacks tone and businesses need to be extremely careful with how they handle the platforms, it is no wonder the comment caused nothing but bad press.
The tweet read: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."
After Twitter users reacted angrily to the message, Cole removed the offending tweet and issued an apology on his Facebook Page:
“I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate. Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer”
See also: Politicians: Think before you tweet
A double-edged sword, if a public relations campaign goes well, it can be a positive and profitable result for a brand. However, once a corporation asks for input in a public arena, the scheme is fraught with risk.
A previous McDonald's Twitter campaign asked for users to contribute to the hashtag conversations #McStories and #MeetTheFarmer -- no doubt to try and collate positive experiences associated with the brand. What actually happened was the opposite, and an enormous social media storm struck the company.
McDonald's posted a YouTube video of Potato supplier Frank Martinez, in conjunction with a promoted (paid for) tweet that appeared in news feeds across the globe. The linked tweet read:
"When u make something w/pride, people can taste it," - McD potato supplier #McDStories
Within a day or so, a torrent of negative comments appeared through the hashtags, which only stopped once what seems like half the Twitterverse had pitched in.