What travel and leisure marketers can learn from history’s greatest social media screw ups.

August 8, 2012

6 of my favorite history lessons from the biggest social media screw ups of the still-young century.

1.  April 2004:  A blogger picks a Kriptonite lock using a Bic pen.

Social Learning:  Kriptonite (and the rest of us) learned that news travels a lot faster on the internet, and failing to respond can be costly.  By the way, Kriptonite ended up spending $15 million on a product recall.

2. June 2006: Dell’s reputation goes up in smoke when Gizmodo publishes a photo of an exploding laptop.

Social Learning:  Dell learned the power of a single incriminating photo spread across the internet, and the importance of responding quickly to negative news spread virally.

Dell was forced to recall more than 4 million laptop batteries. And quickly got its social act together.

3. January 2007:  Jet Blue passengers who are stranded on the runway for 8 hours film (and post) their ordeal.

Social Learning:  Jet Blue got the significance of these actions right away, and CEO David Neelman immediately crafted and posted an apology on YouTube.

And taught the rest of corporate America how to own up to a screwup online, in real-time.

4. August 2008:  In one of the first documented cases of Twitter-squatting, “Janet from ExxonMobil” creates a fake corporate Twitter account.

Social Learning:   This incident taught giants of industry across many categories that you ignore social media at your own peril.

5. A Twitter army of angry  moms swarms a sassy Motrin commercial aimed at moms, and forces Johnson and Johnson to apologize.

Social Learning:  A small group of influential Tweeters can use the megaphone of social media to get a giant company’s attention.

6.   United ignores passenger Dave Carroll’s pleas to fix a guitar the airline damaged in transit, and becomes the butt of Dave’s popular protest video.

Social Learning:  United learned that it’s a lot cheaper to fix a disgruntled passenger’s broken guitar than a reputation damaged by 9 million views of a viral video.

There are 31 more social mistakes of monumental consequence documented in a recent SMI presentation. You can view the entire presentation on Slideshare.


%d bloggers like this: