October 4, 2023

Just. Shut. Up.

By: Jenny Kinsman @jennykinsman

Do you ever scroll through your Facebook feed and think… oh my god, what are these people thinking? On my Facebook feed, I see a range of posts containing political outrage to mouth-watering Tasty videos. But, I’m trying this new thing out where I don’t unfriend/mute people because they opposing beliefs. (Trust me, it’s been a struggle) I can brush off an ignorant comment on Facebook if it is written by my ex-best friend from high school, but I am genuinely confused how companies and brands make the same mistakes.

It takes one quick Google search to find the biggest social media fails of all time, and yes they hold up to the title.  A rule of thumb when posting on social media, if you question the post even for a second it will receive backlash.

If it landed on the Forbes blog, then it was probably wasn’t the wisest decision to post.

The success for any brand comes from the trust of its customers. For example, I am a loyal customer of Fred Meyer because I know each time I shop at the grocery store I am getting my money worth. The store offers discounts on items sold in the store and gas but also price matches and applies price adjustments its products.

Once a customer loses trust, it’s an uphill climb to get back on the good side of the totem pole. One of the more classic examples of a social media fail is the DiGiorno’s #WhyIStayed scandal. In an attempt to make pizza humorous, the company tweeted out this: “WhyIStayed You had pizza.” The first mistake DiGiorno made was not checking the hashtag. One click would have saved hours of crisis management and would not have offended its viewers. This hashtag was used in support of domestic violence survivors.

So from these fails, I have learned to follow these steps before posting to social media:

  1. Do your research: The foundation to any successful campaign and provides context on a specific issue.
  2. Consider the audience: Narrow down who the content will be targeted towards.
  3. Write out the post, read it, read it again, have someone else read it, have your neighbor read it, read it again yourself, and then post to the appropriate platform if there are no hesitations.
  4. Continue the conversation: monitor how the tweet is being received and interact with the audience.

Even after professionals go through extensive training, and I like to think that most people have common sense, these mistakes still happen. It is important to address the issue with transparency and in a timely manner. But also, just shut up.

6 thoughts on “Just. Shut. Up.

  1. I agree, “Do your research” should be near the top of the list for any PR professional. All DiGiorno had to do was check the hashtag beforehand to see what #WhyIStayed was really about, one easy click could have saved them all the backlash.

    I also agree about the difficulty you face on Facebook with wanting to mute people who post things that you don’t agree with. It can be quite aggravating to see a family member post such ignorant garbage on their social media site, but muting them isn’t going to really solve anything. The fact that companies can make the same mistakes is hard to believe, but you provided proof that idiocy is still alive and well for all.

  2. I definitely agree, I’m often very surprised by what brands decide to post on social media. Especially, when we look at social media fails in class, I’m very surprised that these large companies would make those mistakes.

    I also agree that the success of a brand is heavily influenced by the trust of its customers. For instance, when a company donates a large sum to a cause or nonprofit for their CSR, it makes me want to buy from their company as opposed to other brands who aren’t doing that.

  3. Great blog post, Jenny!

    This was relatable considering the fact that I have been avoiding Facebook for the past two weeks for this sole reason. I completely agree with the idea of always doing research before voicing an opinion on any social media platform. Considering that companies hire teams to do research for their content means that we should take that extra step to ensure that what we are posting is valid.

    The tips you have provided are relevant to both companies and individuals. The one tip that really stuck out to me was to have everyone in your social circle read and verify your post before it ends up on a platform. Cross checking is never a bad idea and also points out mistakes that you might not notice. Proof reading is key and something that everyone should do before beginning a conversation on social media.

    Think before you post!

  4. Jenny,

    I loved your Forbes video and how it related to a lot of things we talked about in class. I have the same sentiment (along with most everyone in our class) about how companies can’t take a moment to check a hashtag or simply type something into the Google space bar. It seems insane because there are people that are literally hired to complete tasks like this and that Forbes video just exposes how often people fall down on the job.

    Something else I was pondering throughout your post was the Cinnabon fail, which was the use of Princess Leia’s buns as (basically) an advertisement. It seems that companies would learn from the mistakes of others but that does not seem to be the case. They keep making these massive blunders unintentionally perpetuating racism, insensitivity, and a lack of complete understanding for real life issues. I hope that some company out there reads this post and sees their mistakes reflected back on them or more importantly learns to not repeat these mistakes in the future.

    Julia Hofmann

  5. Hey Jenny,

    Great post. Since both of us work in social media, we’ve been told over and over (and over) again, “think before you tweet.” You hit the nail on the head with this post. You and I both know from first hand experience that sometimes the littlest of mistakes or carelessness can cause quite the uproar online. While I don’t think either one of us would be accused of being senseless or careless on Twitter, it is definitely something to consider every time we hit that publish button.

    The other thing I liked about your post is the idea that it is not always necessary to post during trying times. I think we should talk about this in team meetings about when it is appropriate to respond and when it isn’t. Something to strategize about in the near future.

  6. That is so true! It is shocking how seemingly little companies and organizations think through how some posts and comments could be taken. It behooves future PR professionals to see all of these fails so that the future will be filled with more thoughtful and reasonable human beings who don’t make these raging and brand-diminishing mistakes. This obviously fits very well with the class last week but the tasteless and thoughtless posts are getting out of control!

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