Posted December 13, 2011 4:09 pm by with 1 comment

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What do Gilbert Gottfried, Kenneth Cole and GoDaddy’s CEO Bob Parsons have in common?

They all made the 2011 list of Marketing’s Biggest Social Media Blunders. The list, which was put together by AdAge, details the worst missteps and mouth-offs from celebs and brands who are smart enough to know better.

In some cases, it was the brand who suffered the damage after an underling Tweeted without thinking, but sometimes it was the brand itself that messed up (we’re looking at you, Ragu.) And sometimes it was just living proof that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Lowe’s fell on that sword just this week when they pulled their advertising from the TV series All American Muslim. As of this morning, they have 23,000 comments on their current post, which makes a valiant attempt to quiet the screaming masses. Prior to that, their happy home improvement posts are laden with folks demanding a boycott and others proclaiming their support just as strongly.

Here’s the response Lowe’s posted on their wall. It’s a very balanced piece that says they’re sorry people are upset, but not sorry for the decision they made. It speaks to the passion people feel for the subject then skirts the issue by saying, this isn’t the forum for a discussion of this kind.

Obviously, that response isn’t going to make people stop commenting, but the uproar should die down before the week is out.

The trouble with social media is that it’s instant. It’s easy to send a message out to the world without thinking it through and once it’s out there, there’s no pulling it back. And it’s not enough to watch your own language, you also have to be aware of what employees are saying on your behalf.

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Figure it’s going to happen. What’s important is what happens next. Undoing a social media blunder takes finesse and patience. Don’t rush in with an over-blown response. Don’t pander and don’t insist you were right.

Instead, apologize for any harm (perceived or real), promise to do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen again and move on. That’s the hard part — letting go. But as fast as social media moves, in a week’s time, someone else will be on the hot seat and you can go back to business as usual.

What advice do you have for countering the effects of the social media blunder?

  • Great example – dealing with a social media blunder should be simple.

    Its like dealing with foot in mouth disease in everyday life, we’re all gonna do it at one point or another – face it, accept it, and move on with life – even if the business is totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

    That’ll come to the surface one way or another, most likely in the form of what people perceive from the chatter.

    Effective communication in either direction can still transmit the professional empathetic message without being condescending, defensive, or arguementative.,

    Have the integrity to be objective, honest, transparent, and compassionate. Easy in theory, more difficult in practice.

    Personally and professionally speaking, I’m guilty on all counts – more often than I care to admit…therein lies the difficulty!