Tag Archives: Social media

Social Media Fail #1: Cable Service with Time Warning

Patrick Stewart despairs

Oh no, it’s all gone Pete Tong

And so, finally, we reach my favorite Social Media Fail of 2012.  And though it got quite a bit of coverage in September, there’s a pretty good chance that not many will have heard of it.  But also a fair chance that many of you will empathize.

When was the last time you moved house?

For me it was about 4 years ago, and in my case it was actually moving from one continent to another, but whether it’s halfway around the world or only down the street, moving house is often considered to be second only to the death of a spouse or a child in terms of the levels of stress it is capable of inducing.

And of course it is only when you have sold your old house and bought your new one that the challenges really begin.  Finding someone to help you move, getting all the endless paperwork completed, finding new suppliers, comparing prices (not just the 6 month prices designed to hook you, but the long term prices where they really make their money).

Time Warner CableIt’s a seemingly endless round of searches and phone calls. Fortunately, since you’re a ‘potential new customer’ you can usually get straight through to a real person, a seemingly unremarkable fact at the time but one you will remember wistfully when you’ve been a customer for a while and you’re being herded through the autoprompts to the “Your business is important to us” holding area with the rest of the cattle.

Then finally, you’re into your new house, the power, gas, taxes and all the other annoying crap have been turned on or put in your name, and only one key task remains: the visit from the cable company to set up your cable TV, internet connection and (for those blissfully wedded to last century) your landline phone.

Most of us have been in the position of waiting, hour after hour, to see whether on the appointed day the guy or gal with all the cables, boxes and associated gizmos arrives on time, or even at all.

Patrick Stewart's cry in the wilderness

Patrick Stewart’s cry in the wilderness – an emotion
not uncommon among cable subscribers

In September this year, new New York resident Patrick Stewart set up an appointment with Time Warner Cable to come and install his links to the outside world.

The experience did not go well, causing him to tweet “All I wanted to do was set up a new account with @TWCable_NYC, but 36hrs later I’ve lost the will to live.”

Patrick Stewart's RejectionTo their credit, Time Warner responded promptly, tweeting to find out “How can we assist you?”, but Stewart clearly thought, quite rightly when all’s said and done, that he had a right to expect decent service from those who had been supposed to provide it in the first place., and that this offer of help on social media was too little too late.

Again, Time Warner’s Twitter team were professional and tweeted back “I apologize for the frustration.  If you change your mind we are here.”

Sir Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Stewart

This exchange happened on September 13, and the conversation could have ended there.  But overnight, I’m guessing someone in Time Warner’s Social Media team noticed the little blue check mark next to the name ‘Patrick Stewart’.

For those of you not familiar, the blue check indicates a ‘Verified’ account, meaning that twitter users can be certain that the person they are following is the genuine article and not a copycat.  People whose accounts are ‘Verified’ are movie stars, sports personalities, senior politicians, and so on.

So, when someone at time Warner noticed the little check mark it’s probably only then that the penny dropped and the sound that the penny made went something like “Oh, it’s Jean Luc Picard, that might not be a good thing!”.

Another dead giveaway might have been the fact that @SirPatStew had roughly 60,000 followers despite only having been on Twitter for a few months.  And another still might have been that his tweet was being retweeted hundreds of times an hour.  But, OK, they missed it, so let’s move on.

TWC - Ingratiation is the key to success

TWC – Ingratiation is the key to success

And move on was exactly what they should have done.  They’d dropped the ball on the install, but responded professionally on Social Media, so leave it at that.

But no.  They decided to try and cozy up to him, tweeting at him the following day using a couple of ingratiating Star Trek references to illustrate how much they loved him.  I can almost imagine half a dozen of them gathered round the screen, composing their masterpiece:  “Oh, dude, I got it, tell him we’re trekkers! Is it trekkers or trekkies?  Oh, what the hell, say trekkers.”  “What’s that catchphrase of his?  Oh yeah – ‘make it so’!  Tell him we’ll ‘make it so’ “.

To my absolute delight, Stewart was having none of it and sent back the equivalent of Monty Python’s ‘Fish Slapping Dance’, which basically stopped the conversation in its tracks.Patrick Stewart's dismisses TWC

Once again, that could have been the end of it, but alas for Time Warner, the pummeling gathered pace.

The original tweet had now received getting on for 2000 retweets, and practically everybody who retweeted or replied seemed to be agreeing that Time Warner installs were as organized as a tossed salad.  And that wasn’t the worst, not by a long shot.

LeVar Burton tweetLeVar Burton (Picard’s colleague Georgi La Forge from Star Trek TNG), replying to a tweet from the New York Observer writer Steve Huff said simply “Been there!”.  Huff’s tweet referenced an article on tech site Betabeat (for whom he also writes) chronicling the previous day’s exchange.

The Betabeat article was posted to reddit, where redditors agreed with Stewart’s decision in no uncertain terms.

Shatner's views on Time WarnerWilliam Shatner replied to Stewart’s first tweet, initially just saying that he agreed, but then going on to amplify his view in a separate tweet informing everyone that he’d been waiting for Time Warner LA to re-add Digital Talk Radio for nearly a month, and describing them as “Terrible”.

George Takei

George Takei

By this time the story was being featured prominently in the mainstream media around the world. However, after a couple of weeks, just as Time Warner might have though it was safe to come out of the bathroom, former original Star Trek cast member turned Social Media darling George Takei chimed in, saying “It doesn’t get much better than this” and sharing the entire story with his half million Twitter followers (leading to another 2500 retweets), and his legion of Facebook fans (over 3 million of them), resulting in nearly 25,000 likes, 5,000 shares and well over 1,000 comments, very few of them with anything positive to say about Time Warner.

Stewart meanwhile was maintaining a dignified silence while the interwebs were amusing themselves with poking fun at Time Warner.  In fact, his only related tweet during the entire time period was to @dish, to thank them for providing the “prompt and professional service” that he had originally hoped to get from TWC.

Patrick Stewart's tweet to DishThough it appears he couldn’t resist one final, priceless little swipe at Time Warner Cable, which I think ties the story up quite nicely – the perfect place to end.

Thanks for reading.  I’ve enjoyed writing these Top 10 Fails, particularly reseaching them, and hope you’ve found something that has either given you food for thought, or at least made you smile.

May I wish you a very Happy New Year.


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Social Media Fail #2: @Sweden and the Average Sven

Curation Rotation - the @Sweden twitter account

Curation Rotation – the @Sweden twitter account

During the week or so that I’ve been listing these social media fails, some of the most frequently trodden ground I’ve covered relates to the leap of faith required in hiring someone to manage one’s social media.

It’s easy for something to go wrong.  One mistake and the wise denizens of the internet start punching you mercilessly and holding you up to public ridicule.

And it’s possible you may deserve it, particularly if you’ve forgotten that while the person handling your social media may be responsible for what you share, you are still accountable.  It’s your brand.  The buck stops with you.

So consider the leap of faith required to hand your social media over to someone with no professional social media credentials – someone who is, in fact, a complete stranger.  Consider the risk in telling them that they can pretty much say whatever they want.

Then, if by some miracle it works out, consider taking the same risk a week later by giving the responsibility to a different person again.  And again.  And again.

And, the biggest leap of all, to have your entire nation judged by what these strangers choose to say.

Welcome to Sweden, where in late 2011 the idea of giving control of the @sweden twitter profile to a different member of the Swedish public every week was considered a good idea.

The idea came, not surprisingly, from an ad agency, Volontaire of Stockholm.  It was a brave idea, a new idea, an idea so full of both promise and pitfalls that the bravery of the agency in suggesting it dwindles to insignificance when compared with the bravery of the client that approved it.

The concept was borne of the idea that the world would better understand Sweden if the world understood the Swedish people.  Giving Average Sven control of @sweden would allow people to get a better understanding of what makes Swedes tick, what’s important to them, their likes and dislikes.

And so, in December 2011 and throughout the year that has followed, Svenska Institutet and VisitSweden gave one Swede every week the responsibility of curating the @sweden twitter profile, thereby pioneering what has become known as ‘Curation Rotation’.  The only rules were that you must be a Swede, you must tweet in English, and you shouldn’t do anything criminal.

Miss @Sweden, Sonja Abrahamsson

Miss @Sweden,
Sonja Abrahamsson

And do you know what?  It wasn’t the public relations disaster that might have been expected.  Erm…..for the first few months.

The first time that most people in the US will have heard about @sweden was in June this year, which coincidentally was exactly the moment that it became a much bigger story than it had been up to that point.

Folks who work in marketing may have heard about it a little earlier (it won a Gold Clio in May) but on June 10, @sweden moved into the mainstream in the U.S. as a New York Times article shone a spotlight its first 6 months of operation.

The article was interesting, gave a number of examples of some of the points of view tweeted and took Erik Isberg, the curator of the moment, as its main subject.

What's the fuzz?At the end of Mr Isberg’s week, just as the NYT article came out, Sonja Abrahamsson took over and by the end of her week the publicity of the NYT piece had been dwarfed by the publicity surrounding her tweets, which ranged from mundane to potentially anti-semitic to certainly gross and generally bizarre. An article on Mashable collected some of the most ‘memorable’.

In addition to Ms. Abrahamsson’s high profile tenure, yet more light was shone on @sweden when the campaign won a Grand Prix at the Cannes festival.

Across the remainder of 2012, the @sweden handle settled down again into the mundane, the everyday, with only the occasional blip.  That is not to say that there has not been some interesting stuff – there has – but none has even approached the levels of social media hysteria reached in June.

In general, the Swedes have shown themselves to be good natured, humorous, down to earth people.  Their ability to communicate effectively in a second language should put most English speaking nations to shame.  Given the opportunity to make a name for themselves in representing their country, the vast majority of them have behaved with grace and good nature, have taken their responsibility seriously and have been conscious of the impact they may have on their country’s global image.

That said, while clearly the unpleasantness of some of Ms. Abrahamsson’s series of tweets is likely to live longer in the memory than those of all the other, more mainstream-minded curators, can it really be said to have failed?

Gold Clio

The coveted
Gold Clio

No, and yes.

No because the campaign won a Clio award in New York and a Grand Prix at Cannes.  No, because the number of followers has increased.  And no because it can probably be said that followers of the @sweden account have a more rounded view of the Swedish people than they did before which was, after all, the objective.

But yes because for all the good things that may potentially have come of this experiment, the one thing that will most likely be remembered, the thing that received the most media coverage, was an image of anti-semitism and lack of education.  On the basis that perception is reality that is a sad legacy, and particularly sad for all those curators who provided excellent content only to see their efforts, thoughts and feelings swamped under a blanket association of bigotry and ignorance.

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

And remember that it could be said that the perception of bigotry is only a perception, and not reality.  Reading Ms. Abrahamsson’s tweets with an open mind, in the views of some Jewish commentators, leads to an understanding that she is not being bigoted, but is rather asking questions that many people might share, and that these questions stand on a foundation of naiveté, not one of prejudice.

At the end of her tenure as Curator of Sweden, she posted a somewhat bizarre video to summarize her week, and told people to make up their own minds.  Around the same time, she also gave an interview in which she explained a tattoo on the back of her neck  The tattoo actually reads “hej hej” (Swedish for hello hello) which could be seen as a link to her twitter handle @hejsonja but, from a distance, it could be read as something else, a coincidence that Ms. Abrahamsson explains as “a mistake”.

So, what can we learn from the @sweden experiment?

Well, clearly we can learn that handing over control of your brand without putting strict guidelines and safeguards in place is a very dangerous thing.  But perhaps more importantly, we can learn that tweeting half-formed thoughts or open questions is likely to result in a backlash.

It is not unusual in this day and age for people to extrapolate from any position that leaves any middle ground, in order to infer a whole host of other positions, and usually assuming these positions to be either black or white.

And so it proved with @sweden.  Ms. Abrahamsson’s tweets were largely taken to be an indication of an assumed set of values.  That assumption may be right or wrong, but 140 characters does not give much room for clarification.  Or as Time Magazine put it, “long enough to say something stupid, but not nearly long enough to explain yourself when you do”.


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Social Media Fail #3: Know what you’re talking about.

Numerous fails related to insensitive handling of current events

Numerous fails related to insensitive handling of
current events or just lack of vigilance

There were several ghastly gaffes this year that can be attributed to the lack of a professional approach towards social media marketing.

Retailers using Hurricane Sandy as a sales platform was not particularly smart.

NRA_Rifleman forgetting they’d scheduled a tweet only to have real life events make it completely inappropriate.

Someone (how many times have we seen this now?) at KitchenAid forgetting to switch between corporate and personal accounts when sending out a tweet.

They were all pretty bad and, not surprisingly, generated something of a social media beatdown.  However I’d argue that one stood head and shoulders above the others because it’s such a classic example of someone firing off a joke marketing tweet without stopping to consider whether the joke was funny.

On Friday July 20, just after midnight, James Eagan Holmes walked into Century movie theater in Aurora, CO., and opened fire.  12 people were killed, over 50 injured.

It didn’t take long for #Aurora to start trending worldwide on Twitter.

Celeb Boutique original tweet6000 miles and 7 time zones away, in England, Celeb Boutique caught sigh of the word ‘Aurora’.  Not yet being familiar with the shooting, they sent out a tweet offering the view that the trend must surely be related to their Kim Kardashian inspired ‘Aurora’ dress.  Which begs the question, is that stupid or is it just a legitimate mistake?

Well, I guess it’s a legitimate mistake if you hand your social media over to an idiot.  But if you’re actually paying someone to manage it for you it’s inexcusable, because you have a right to expect professionalism.

Celeb Boutique streamWithin a few hours, it had been retweeted over 1,000 times and the comments were coming in thick and fast at which point Celeb Boutuque did 3 things.

They apologized.

They retweeted about how excited they were about the weekend.

Then they apologized again.

To be honest, I find the ‘Fabulous Friday’ tweet as bad as the original one.

Celeb Boutique saw that there was a problem, issued and apology and then moved straight on to retweet their excitement about plans for the weekend, before going on to apologize again, and again, and again.

The implication of this seems to be that their initial apology was something of a perfunctory response, and the retweet was sent out before they really got to grips with the strength of reaction their original tweet had caused.

celeb-boutique-profileThat aside, Celeb Boutique’s response when they found out how dumb they’d been was, I believe, sensitive, complete and sincere.  They appeared to be genuinely sorry, and I do sometimes find the way that the holier-than-thou crowd turn into internet bullies somewhat sickening.

However, the fact remains that sending out a marketing tweet on the basis of a trending topic that you haven’t even bothered to investigate for 30 seconds is intensely dumb, almost as bad in fact as Kenneth Cole’s #cairo blunder last year.  Almost.  Cole’s was unforgiveable.

Sensitivity is one of the key skills that should be expected of anyone working in communications.  I sometimes make poor decisions as well.  We all do.  But thinking about what you say in advance of actually saying it is always time well spent.  For instance, when thinking of a title for today’s blog, I mulled over a number of euphemisms for ‘acting without thinking’.  One of the first that came to mind was an observation about how unwise it is to shoot from the hip.  In view of the subject of today’s blog, that particular headline was discarded pretty quickly.

Celeb Boutique makes my Top 3 fails of the year.


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Social Media Fail #8: What’s in a Name?

Post-it Note Jaguar

The original Post-it Jaguar from December 2006 – an early viral hit on image and video hosting site Flickr

Remember the Post-it Note Jaguar?  One of the most popular early social media sensations was also one of the earliest examples of a large company getting social media hopelessly wrong.

When 3M decided it wanted to capitalize on all the free publicity surrounding Scott Ableman’s 2006 decoration of his colleague’s Jag, Mr Ableman very reasonably offered to sell 3M the rights to the photographs for $2,000.

Those familiar with licensing will know this is not an unreasonable amount – far from it in fact.  But bizarrely, 3M said they could recreate it in their garage for half that amount and requested Mr Ableman match that price.  When Ableman balked at the request, 3M made good on the promise and produced a copycat Post-it car, which was then sent on tour.

The result was one of the very first social media backlashes and 3M found itself in a position of being viewed as a curmudgeon, a self-satisfied killjoy and facing accusations of copyright infringement when for the princely sum of $2,000 it could have enhanced its credentials as a forward-thinking and fun company.

David Meerman-Scott wrote a well-measured piece at the time on Web Ink Now (one of the web’s longest running blogs) that not only discussed the case in point, but also offered some early observations on social media ethics.

Over 5 years later, it seems that some companies have learned a few lessons about how a lot of goodwill is worth a little money, while others still seem to take the “If it’s going to cost us anything then screw the goodwill” approach.

In November 2011, Britain’s largest travel agent Thomas Cook found a post on their Facebook page from…..a 26 year old Brit called Thomas Cook.Original post

Mr Cook informed Thomas Cook that, following a lifetime of putting up with silly jokes about his name, he though that Thomas Cook might like to compensate him for pain and suffering by providing him with a free trip to Paris.

Orig Reply

The response – a humorless ‘here’s a link to our website where you can buy a trip to Paris.’

At this point, some forward-thinking young whizz at Thomas Cook might have stopped for a moment and mused “Hmmmm, y’know maybe we can have a little fun with this….”.  It was, after all, little more than a joke.

But no.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr Cook received a response that was polite, matter of fact, provided an immensely helpful link to the Thomas Cook website homepage , missed the point completely and when all is said and done, was utterly hopeless.

TCook 2I suspect that Mr Cook had originally posted his request as a joke, but Thomas Cook’s sense of humor failure clearly seemed to spur him on.  He posted again on the Thomas Cook page that he was not asking for a freebie, but for compensation, also advising them that after so many years the requested compensation was well below market value and that they were welcome.

It is at this point that the story probably had nowhere to go and it would probably have never been seen again if not for the dramatic entry of a knight in shining armor.

Small online travel retailer had been running some google search PPC activity to ask consumers whether they had been “Thomas Crooked”.  Clearly, were already enjoying baiting the market leader so when one of their marketing team, Charlotte Hunt, saw the exchange on the Thomas Cook Facebook page, she immediately saw an opportunity to irritate the 800lb gorilla a bit further, and maybe drum up a little positive rep for her own company.

Using her personal Facebook account, she sent Mr Cook a direct message that essentially said that if Thomas Cook are too mean to help you, then would do the right thing in their place.  She then proceeded to offer him not just one weekend in Paris for him, but a week there for him and a friend,.  The offer was serious but the tone was tongue in cheek and light-hearted, in keeping with Mr Cook’s original post to Thomas Cook.

Fastforward 10 months……

Thomas Cook at the Eiffel Tower

Thomas Cook (and friend) at the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Mr Cook, finally redeeming the offer from, snapped a picture of himself and a friend at the Eiffel Tower.  He posted it to Reddit, under the title “Benefits of sharing my name with a travel agent”.

In a matter of hours, the picture had been upvoted to the Reddit frontpage, and was going viral on Twitter.  So, for the cost of maybe $2,000, got themselves many times that amount of brand name exposure, not to mention the added benefit of being seen as Prince Valiant to Thomas Cook’s Wicked Witch of the West.

The lesson of all this?  Well, the lessons haven’t changed and I’m not going to repeat them since we all hopefully know them, even though some still ignore them.  ‘Ahem’, like Thomas Cook then went on to do.

With Mr. Cook’s photo getting mass exposure on Reddit and Twitter, Thomas Cook (who presumably had thought this had all gone away months earlier and had deleted all trace of Mr. Cook from their Facebook page) could have decided to be magnanimous, held their hands up and said “OK, fair enough, you got us”.

Thomas Cook Oct 2012But no.  Thomas Cook made a new post to their Facebook page congratulating Mr Cook and acknowledging the part played by lowcostholidays….but then completely screwed the pooch by saying that they can’t give away free trips to everyone, but that they do a lot for charity and perhaps Mr. Cook might like to volunteer.

So, as well as failing to give him a free trip, they now tried to force-feed him a guilt trip.

Presumably several very clever people pushed what to do back and forth, and thought that this would be a good way to take the high road while giving Mr Cook a discreet kick in the shins and making themselves look pious.  But a look through the comments in response reveals that they’re not really fooling anyone.  One doesn’t take the high road and kick in the shins at the same time.  This isn’t rocket science, folks.

Why is it that big companies are frequently so much less agile when it comes to Social Media?  Is it simply the obvious answer that they have become grey, faceless and humorless, so big that their employees are not empowered or encouraged to think outside the box?  Or is it that smaller, growing companies retain their entrepreneurial spirit, their sense of fun, and their willingness to be a little off the wall or zany?  Or are those just different sides of the same coin?

In the case of Thomas Cook, it wasn’t really their decision not to pay up that harmed them as much as their complete lack of personality.  Social Media is no longer new, and the lessons should really have started to get through by now.


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Social Media Fail #10: Spread the Sneer

Starbucks LogoStarbucks first established a presence in the UK in the late 1990s and, over the last decade, has grown to the point where at last count it had over 750 outlets across Britain. Most people would probably call that a pretty good 10 years. But all is not well in the land of milk and mocha.

Over the last 15 years, Starbucks UK has recorded a profit only once. Since 2007, fiscal results shared with the tax man have been markedly different from the picture painted to analysts:

Between 2008 and 2011, Starbucks UK filed accounts showing consecutive annual losses of £26m, £52m, £34m and £33m. But over the same period, investors and analysts were told that the UK business was profitable, that sales continued to grow and that Starbucks is very pleased with the performance in the UK.

Clearly this apparent difference in fiscal realities is worthy of investigation, but until very recently it had been largely overlooked. But since 2010, when the incoming Conservative government in the UK adopted a policy of cutting public spending to reduce the budget deficit, increased levels of attention have been focused on what alternatives to cutting spending could be found. Unfortunately for Starbucks (and others, such as Google and Amazon), the one of the spotlights has fallen steadily on corporate tax avoidance.

Now, to be fair to Starbucks, they have done nothing illegal. What they have done however is to happily benefit from practices that allow them, quite legally, to make inter-company charges for things like use of intellectual property, and transfer pricing, both of which allow Starbucks to minimize its tax exposure.

This state of affairs may make all the sense in the world to analysts, but it doesn’t cut any ice with great swathes of the public in Britain who want to know, quite reasonably, why Starbucks is getting a free ride.

In October of 2012, this issue burst out of the confines of academic discussion and broke loudly in the mainstream. Pressure groups like UK Uncut ensured that the pressure was kept on and the number of column inches grew.

Kris Engskov

Kris Engskov – Starbucks will pay £10m in both 2013 and 2014, whether the company is profitable or not.

Starbucks, somewhat surprised by the sudden publicity surrounding a fiscal policy that had been operating quietly and satisfactorily for years, became alarmed.  The alarm grey louder when their Chief Financial Officer, Troy Alstead, was one of several grilled in front of the cameras by the Public Accounts Committee.  The result of this alarm was an announcement on December 6 when Kris Engskov, Managing Director of Starbucks UK announced that the company would unilaterally make a payment of £10m for each of the next two years “regardless of whether the company is profitable”.

Rather than brushing the issue hastily under a mat, this announcement put Starbucks back on the front page. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) responded that the public expects businesses to pay their share, and that corporation tax should not be considered voluntary. UK Uncut said that Starbucks was avoiding the issue and that the gesture was “too little, too latte”, and organized a series of protests at Starbucks stores at multiple locations around the UK.

In the midst of all this, with timing that could scarcely be worse, Starbucks launched a campaign on twitter encouraging members of the public to share stories of holiday cheer and goodwill using the hashtag #spreadthecheer.

#spreadthecheer - the twitterati were not happy

#spreadthecheer – the twitterati were not happy

Nobody of course can be surprised to hear that the campaign has backfired quite dramatically. “I will never buy coffee from tax dodging Starbucks again personally. RT and #spreadthecheer” said one. “Why not #spreadthecheer by paying your taxes in full Starbucks? You leeching, parasitic scum.” said another. And those are two of the nicer ones.

But worse was to come. As part of its festive season marketing campaign, Starbucks set up a Twitter wall at the Natural History Museum cafe in London, where adults and children alike could enjoy the delights of a coffee, a skate and spreading the cheer.

Whether a moderator was asleep at the switch or the content filtering software fell over at a critical moment is not clear, but what was clear was the opportunity to give Starbucks another highly visible kick in the shins.

From a pointed but relatively clean beginning “If firms like Starbucks paid proper taxes, museums wouldn’t have to prostitute themselves to advertisers” (the National History Museum is paid for with public money), tweets became progressively worse. They ventured through “Starbucks’ anti-labor behaviors mean my good friend has to work three 12-hour shifts two days after giving birth. #spreadthecheer.” and “#spreadthecheer Tax dodging MoFos” before finally arriving at rock bottom with “Hey #Starbucks Pay your f****** tax. #spreadthecheer.

The Natural History Museum Twitter wall.  Ooops - that's probably not good.

The Natural History Museum Twitter wall. Ooops – that’s probably not good.

While Starbucks UK HQ will presumably be a little short on holiday cheer this year, one company who will be thinking Christmas has come early is Costa Coffee, the biggest UK coffee retailer, whose parent group Whitbread plc have seen their share price rise over 100 points since early October.


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My Top 10 Social Media fails of 2012

FacepalmEvery now and again, something you see on Social Media makes you almost choke on your coffee.  Or laugh until your sides hurt.  Or very occasionally go and hide behind the couch.

Everyone is human and despite re-reading what I write several times before posting, I occasionally make visible mistakes myself as well, so it is therefore not with a desire to mock but with a sense of empathy that, over the next 10 days, I will blog my ten favorite social media fails of 2012 – the sort of fails that, from an initial glow of satisfaction, develop into an overwhelming uncomfortable warmth as you realize you’ve made an obvious and potentially damaging mistake.

Some of them you will doubtless have seen before, some may indeed have been featured heavily in the mainstream media, but I hope that in amongst the familiar there will be some new delights, some previously undiscovered gems.

CalendarSince each will cover a fair amount of ground, I’ve decided to blog about one a day rather than trying to cover all of them in a single post of infinite length.

I’ll describe the background, illustrate the key players, provide pictures, links and video, and also ask whether there are any lessons we can learn from each.  But first and foremost, these will be the ten that I personally found to be the most memorable.

I’ll kick it all off on December 22 with an epic twitter fail, and work through until we get to my favorite on New Year’s Eve.

Happy Holidays everyone and best wishes for a better 2013, particularly to those responsible for the stories that are about to follow…..


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