Our Favourite Social Media Fails of 2016 So Far

social media fails 2016

Social media has it’s fair share of funnies - not all intentional. In fact, some of the funniest funnies have come from misguided social media campaigns. If you make a mistake in marketing the likelihood is pretty soon somebody is going to point it out to you, and no marketing channel is quite at quick (and brutal) at doing that as social networking…

Businesses, be warned. Trolls never sleep. Under no circumstances should you make it easy for them. When it comes to your social media campaign, there is no such thing as over-proofing. Sure, nothing good came out of being overly-cautious and sometimes you have to push boundaries in order to get results. But get it wrong and the internet will let you know.

This year has held some absolute crackers of social media fails. We’ve collected three of our favourites, partly so you can be sure you don’t make similar mistakes, but mostly so we can all have a jolly good laugh at their expense.

DC Comics forgets how to Google

We did a feature on this back in January called “Why DC Comics need to learn how to Google”. While not strictly a social media campaign fail, it was certainly one of the first serious social media controversies of the year. It all started because of a little Editor’s note in the second story inside Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #2, the aptly named “Unsaid”.

In the story a demi-god named Dichara is terrorising the lives of the people of Shimshal, Pakistan. As is customary in comic books when characters are speaking in another language the speech is placed between chevrons and an editor’s note is added. However, this particular editor’s note stated *All translated from Pakistanian, - a language that, most of us will realise, doesn’t actually exist.

When users discovered that a single Google search would have sufficed to confirm that (amongst other common languages) the official language is in fact Urdu the social media backlash was rather large. Perhaps the issue was trying to translate the word “Urdu” into American.

Total Beauty manage to mistake Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah Winfrey

This one was a mix of mistaken identity and campaign coverage. As part of their Oscars night coverage beauty website Total Beauty managed to spark a social media trending discussion with one tweet when their social media manager managed to mix up Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

The tweet, which was swiftly removed after the uproar, included a picture of Goldberg looking fabulous with a tattoo showing, accompanied with the line “We had no idea Oprah was #tatted, and we love it.” The mistake prompted the start of the hashtag #ThatsNotOprah as users began sharing their own spoof versions of mistaken actors.

They say all PR is good PR, but that night not be the case when that PR is a result of offending both Whoopi and Oprah. As a result the website pledged to donate $10,000 dollars to a charity of the actors’ choice.

Microsoft’s AI Bot goes from zero to racist, xenophobic bigot in a matter of hours

Remember Tay, the AI Bot created by Microsoft who went from innocent machine learning bot to bigoted, racist xenophobe in less than a day? We certainly do. Something of a frightening exposé into what Twitter users will do when left alone, Tay was created to mimic real conversations prompted by other users.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for the trolls to catch on and change her innocent voice into something far more malicious. Inevitably Microsoft caught on and deleted the tweets, but not before we’d all had a jolly good giggle.

What have been your favourite social media fails of the year so far? Tweet us and we’ll include them! @GiraffeSM.

Editor - 

Mark is our resident content marketing specialist, what this guy doesn't know isn't worth knowing. His biggest passion is for enacting positive social change through media. In his spare time he is also a keen comedy writer and singer.

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