This article follows a previous one entitled ‘Social media gone badly wrong’, by providing further examples to illustrate yet further social media risks:


  1. Security: Sony experienced serious security issues when it got hacked by external hackers on several occasions over the last few years. More than that, the company was fined $396,100 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in what was found to be a breach of the Data Protection Act. The ICO established that a hack that took place in April 2011 could have been avoided if the company had had an up-to-date security software. A considerable amount of data, including passwords, names, addresses, dates of births and payment card details were compromised as a result. Although Sony apologized publicly, it was not able to avoid the legal challenge that it entered as a consequence. Thus, this example illustrates both the weight of privacy risks when measures taken are insufficient, as well as the legal issues that can arise during or in the aftermath of an online crisis.
  2. Marketing disasters: Colgate recently launched the Big Electric Swap, a promotional effort whereby it promised to exchange the old electric toothbrushes of those who would turn up at Waterloo Station in London on the morning of the 9th of July 2013 with new ProClinical A1500 ones, for free. As the promotion went viral, the company lost control of the situation and Network Rail was forced to close the company’s stand on that morning, in fear of overcrowding. The company was unable, therefore, to fulfill its promise, running out of samples and leaving people around an empty stand. Colgate has now re-focused its promotional effort online; thus those wishing to exchange their toothbrushes will now need to apply online.
  3. Reputation: Damaging your reputation can have long-lasting consequences on brand image. Following the earthquake and tsunami that took place in Japan in 2011, many donated money to help the victims. Bing then wrote in a tweet that for every person who retweets its message, the company will donate $1, up to $100,000. Using a disaster to what seemed like an indirect attempt to promote the brand was very negatively perceived by the public, leading to the company issuing an apology for that tweet. Although an apology was made, it will take much longer for people to forget the 140-character message.
  4. Trust: a FedEx employee was recently caught on security camera throwing a Samsung monitor package over the fence of the buyer’s property, instead of bringing it safely to the door. The security tape was then posted on YouTube by the owner, where it quickly went viral. The company thereafter faced major criticism and issued an apology, in the form of a video as well, on YouTube to say that that behavior had been unacceptable. This incident however is likely to create trust issues between customers and the company, and between management and employees within the company itself.



In order to avoid falling into these challenges, a carefully thought-out social media plan needs to be in place, adapted to its corresponding business environment.

Moreover, mitigation strategies need to be discussed and implemented in order to tackle social media crisis, should one arise, in the most efficient manner for everyone involved.


For more information about social media in business; join our online course



Posted in: Social Media Cases, Social Media for Executives, Social Media Implementation

Leave a Comment (0) ↓

Leave a Comment