US Data Corporation Direct Marketing Blog

Top 16 Worst Facebook Brand Updates of 20136:56 am


By US Data Corporation

Social networking has changed the way we communicate, the way we express ourselves, and the way we do business. Unfortunately, those changes aren’t always for the better, especially when you turn a company loose with a half-baked “social media expert” calling the shots. There is no official accreditation for such a position. You just have to use networks like Facebook enough to get the hang of the etiquette and understand a little about best practices, content creation and audience research.

The company examples you’re about to see in our Top 16 Worst Facebook Brand Updates of 2013 are good examples of bad social media marketing. In these cases, the social media “experts” managing the campaigns clearly need to up their skill level. Whatever you do, don’t make these same mistakes.

1. Crate And Barrel Apple Pie Fail

Crate and Barrel specializes in exclusive home furnishings and housewares for the homeowner (and homebody) in us all. A quick look through their product offerings will reveal a company with a top-tier selection that really knows what it’s doing. The same can be said of their social media efforts, which has helped them accumulate more than 380,000 followers on Facebook. But just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to mistakes. This particular update exemplifies the need for a fresh set of eyes before you put something out there for the world to see. In the example, C&B wants to know if anyone said “deep-dish apple pie.” The only problem is they’ve posted a pecan pie.

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2. Samsung Gulf Galaxy S4 Active Challenge

Samsung Gulf stumbled during their Galaxy S4 Active Challenge promotion. If you’re trying to get social followers engaged, it’s better to not insult their intelligence. Have a little faith in your audience. Don’t give them a multiple choice question related to an image where the answer is plastered everywhere. This doesn’t show the utmost confidence in their intelligence, and it discourages them from participating because they figure that answering the question correctly won’t improve their chances of winning whatever it is you’re trying to give away.

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3. Cheez-It Or Cheez-It?

Most Facebook users have several hundred friends they’re trying to keep up with on a given day. Others use the site strictly for business. The rest incorporate an even mix between the two. Point being: there’s a lot to sift through on an average day’s timeline. The more you waste a user’s time, the more likely they are to “unlike” you. Posts like this one from Cheez-It are utter misuses of social media. Playing cutesy with your followers’ timelines will elicit an eye roll at best. And before you try attempts at humor, think very seriously about the possible outcome. Bounce some ideas off other people. Don’t just assume that they’ll appreciate your effort just because they “liked” your cheddar-flavored mini-cracker. As one commenter muttered, “Fire the person who made that up.”

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4. Pure Wedding World Photo Bomb

Oh wait, did we say that Samsung Gulf was guilty of insulting and underestimating follower intelligence? Clearly, we were mistaken. Pure Wedding World’s effort at “like”-baiting their followers was desperately transparent. They tried goading individuals into “liking” their post with something so obvious a toddler could figure it out. It goes back to the unspoken mandate social media managers have to not waste their followers’ time. Engagement goes well beyond clicking a thumbs-up button. Ideally, you want to feature posts that will make it difficult for followers to just scroll past without reading. This isn’t one of those.

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5. Hunter’s Real Refreshment ‘Like’ Baiting

“Likes” just for the sake of “likes” does not a good social media brand make! What is the Hunter’s brand truly offering with this attempt? Nothing. What are they asking their followers to like? Nothing. What will either party get out of this relationship if the “transaction” is completed? You guessed right – nothing. So why do it? This stinks of an embattled social media manager trying to drum up more likes because that’s what the boss wants to see. Likes mean nothing if the user is not engaged. Find a way to involve them in the product. Don’t simply beg them to like a random, forgettable, and/or confusing message.

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6. Clickology: The Science of Clicking Asks You to Hashtag Your Favorite Cupcake Flavor

Unfortunately, these types of requests seldom end well. That’s because some wise guy is always there to create his own inappropriate hashtag. Then again, who can blame them? Haven’t we been hashtagged to death by now? Worse, is when a hashtag is so bland it doesn’t have a chance of organizing an ongoing conversation. Is there really much else to say beyond #strawberry or #vanilla when talking cupcake flavors? What exactly does that accomplish? Clickology: The Science of Clicking was the brand behind this one.

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7. No One ‘Likes’ Patriot Portraits

What happens when you decide to throw a giveaway and no one shows? That’s a question Patriot Portraits had to answer. Their response: should I try again? As you can see from the photos, this promotion wasn’t handled well from the beginning. It amounts to begging for likes, and by now, we should all be past this childish social media behavior. Be who you are, and do what you do. The Likes will flow naturally. They may be slower in coming, but at least the increases will be worth more.

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8. Black XS Be A Rockstar! (By Flashing People)

Black XS sponsored a post inviting people to “be a rockstar.” By their pictorial definition, a rockstar is more akin to an exotic dancer. There’s something quite sexist and tacky about the sentiment behind this post, and what’s worse, this is where Black XS chose to shed their advertising dollars. Facebook is a platform used by a wide variety of persons. We have different incomes, different age groups, different belief systems. But there’s a good chance that we cross over in our love for rock-and-roll. While some may not have been offended by the off-putting picture, there are dozens more who find themselves fighting risqué ads like this one while they’re showing their children pictures from a family picnic. If your ad content has the potential to be HIDDEN at all by your target audience, then it shouldn’t be used.

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9. Grill’d Ties Its Food Brand to Aging, Hairy, Overweight Adult Film Star

The Australian burger restaurant Grill’d thought it would be a good idea to coin the phrase “Food Porn,” just so they could compare themselves to aging, hairy, pot-bellied adult film star Ron Jeremy. This isn’t exactly the mental image that you want to see as you sit down for a meal. Even more perplexing than the mention of RJ is the phrasing of this update. It forces you to step into the world of a pornographic film just so you can get a handle on what they’re trying to say. And the closer you get to the meaning behind it, the more you just want to stop thinking about it and eat someplace else. Again, Facebook content that can offend even a small cross-section of your audience is not content that you should be running.

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10. Wowcher Insults Women Customers with Thinly Veiled Innuendo

Wowcher is a UK discount service that claims it can get customers up to 80% off restaurants, attractions, hotels, entertainment, and spas (to name a few). But with a status update in October, all they managed to do was talk down to women by implying they needed a man to take on DIY jobs – that they were basically incapable of following instructions and using a tool on their own. The outpouring of negative comments sent a clear message to Wowcher, message being: it’s not the 1950s anymore. Women do a lot of things on their own, and if you consider that women file for divorce about 64% of the time, they’ve learned how to manage quite well.

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11. Liberte UK’s Offer ‘Won’t Work’

This promotion is way, way too complex if you actually want customers to engage with your brand. Worse, MOST people access Facebook on their mobile phones, why run a promotion that won’t work on that platform? Don’t send them on a wild goose chase asking them to do several functions just so they can enjoy your product or offer. This is a lesson Liberte UK could have learned had they not been so busy trying to make sense of everything themselves. A better path would have been to link directly to the offer and not mention all the other stuff. These are realities that customers would have figured out for themselves without the added instruction. Plus, it’s unprofessional language to say that something you set up “won’t work,” especially when you’re trying to get people to use it.

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12. Meanwhile in New Mexico Comes Up With Cringeworthy ‘Like’ Grab

Meanwhile in New Mexico wants to post a bunch of random pictures that can easily be looked up on a Google Image Search. But here’s the kicker. They’ll only do it if you click Like and get all your friends to do the same. We’re not sure who thought up this idea, but they should probably receive a three-year ban on Facebook along with mandatory social media training. One commenter summed it up best: “This is dumb.” Enough said!

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13. Bay Ridge Subaru Isn’t Interested in their Female Audience!

We’re not sure you can get more sexist towards women than what Bay Ridge Subaru manages here. It’s as if they don’t even realize women drive Subarus, not just men. Does that stop them from implying that half (or more) of their customer base are nothing more than life-draining troublemakers for their poor, poor husbands? Nope. They come right out and say it: “Guys, you’d be better off if you ditched the lady and got a Subaru.” Ouch!

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14. Audi Begs for you to do Anything on their Facebook Page

Like, Comment, Share! It’s a nice-looking graphic. We’ll give Audi AG that. But the message behind it is all wrong. Customers have been using social media long enough that they’re well aware of what it means to like, comment, and/or share something on Facebook. They don’t need to be told. They do it every day, sometimes more than once in an hour. But here’s the thing: they do it because they’re engaged; not because they’re trying to win things and bolster an empty brand. Audi’s ploy seems like it was concocted by a social media manager who’s afraid of losing his job or has run out of ideas for the day.

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15. Durex Condom Donations for World AIDS Day (With Strings Attached, Of Course)

We’re pretty sure the condom brand Durex was hoping to get some humanitarian mileage out of their vow to “make a difference” in the lives of those suffering from AIDS. For every “Like” or “Share” they get from the Facebook community, they’ll donate one condom to an HIV prevention charity. Nice. However, it implies that if you don’t like or share something, they won’t do anything, thus shifting the burden of guilt to their followers. “We only gave out 10 condoms. Maybe if you guys had been better engaged…” Tying humanitarian efforts to the amount of clicks you pick up is a bad idea. If you’re going to give stuff away, give it away. Don’t use 30 million dead as a way to bolster your follower count.

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16. People’s Insurance Agency Ltd. Encourages you to Spam your Friends

Wow. People’s Insurance Agency Ltd. must really be hard-up for leads, because they’re trying to coax existing followers into spamming their own friends and family through unsolicited tagging, attached to an obvious statement. “Tag any of your friends in the comments if you think they would like to save money on their auto insurance!” Well, of course, we all want to save money. What we don’t want is to have our identities handed over to an agency desperate to sell more policies. Sneaky. Obvious. Lacks creativity. These all apply to PIA’s post. Don’t let them apply to yours.

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As you dig deeper into the world of Facebook and social media in general, don’t fall in to the trap of posting for posting’s sake. It’s our goal here at US Data Corporation to treat our brand as an identity that adds value on every front. We strive to post the kinds of things that matter to you and our industry and which we personally find of interest. What are some of the worst Facebook brand updates you’ve witnessed? More importantly, what can we provide to you from a content basis going forward? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Ross Quintana

    Great list of Facebook fails. I think the common theme is trying to manipulate people to engage instead of sharing content worth engaging in. Also the underlying issue as you said was what is the point of the likes anyway? If it is for nothing why do it. Facebook is a tool to engage and nurture relationships not to brag about the number of likes you got on a post. Sharing!

  • Very entertaining list. It’s amazing how companies with such large social media budgets can continue to treat their fans with such utter contempt and ignorance. Bottom line with social media is to provide value to your community. Begging for “likes” and “shares” certainly does not fulfill that aim.

  • Huongo

    These otherwise powerful brands are surprisingly so weak on facebook. Nevertheless, they still happen to catch our attention and get the number of likes and shares. That’s the brand power!

  • Macke

    And they prove that it’s hard to be a brand on Facebook. Its afterall primarily a place for connecting with your close (and not-so-close) friends. Here is the list you must learn from if you happen to choose to reap the hidden benefits.

  • Karmend

    That’s actually a very interesting lesson learnt. Never mix your work with drinks or you happen to make the world laugh

  • Daisy

    What a list. Not all of them are horrifying, but by the time I got to 14 I was thinking about how people and brands can slip into brushing off social media as something that just kind of does the work for you. It’s a huge, global, very powerful thing, but you absolutely cannot hire someone who is going to “run out of ideas” or not think through how their post can be perceived by a diverse audience (like the Black XS example). Then you know you’ve got a real dud when they put in just enough time and thought to design a whole ad built around sexism.

  • Ted Coombs

    Giving people unique ways to interact is the key to a social media campaign. Asking them to like something they don’t really know about is not engaging them. However, using a referral app on your site allows people to not only show their support but also allows them to engage their friends, the whole idea of being social in the first place. Otherwise, what you have is simply a one-to-many advertizing system that is no better than a sandwich board on a street corner.

  • Sera Lane

    “If you’re trying to get social followers engaged, it’s better to not insult their intelligence. ” ….. Social followers have no intelligence. I don’t see why it’s wrong to insult them.

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