4 Twitter campaigns that went horribly wrong

Social media campaigns should always be approached with care. While they can make for a great way of communicating with your customers, they’re also open to being taken advantage of by the countless number of online trolls. We’ve seen a number of household brands fall foul of this over the past few years and the National Lottery added their name to the list most recently.

We’ve looked at some of the campaigns which didn’t quite go to plan and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

National Lottery – #Represent

National Lottery #Represent campaign

The National Lottery was the most recent brand to come under criticism for the their #Represent campaign. While the thought behind it was to bring the country together in showing support for Britain’s athletes at the London IAAF World Championships, in reality it caused a split between themselves and their followers.

The premise behind the campaign was to have their followers receive personalised tweets from British athletes. All the users had to do was send a tweet with the hashtag #IAmTeamGB. An image was then automatically generated with an athlete holding up a board with the user’s name on it, thanking them for their support, which was tweeted back to them.

However, it wasn’t long before some users spotted a hole in the campaign and took complete advantage of it. It saw people using names of criminals such as Raoul Moat, while other entries included racial slurs and even references to Madeleine McCann.

This was soon followed by an uproar and while The National Lottery suspended the campaign as they worked to remove the tweets, the damage had seemingly already been done.

Coca Cola – GIF the Feeling

Coca Cola GIF the Feeling campaign

Coca Cola’s ’GIF the Feeling’ campaign was another which sounded great on paper, but in reality left them open to twitter trolls seizing the moment for their own amusement. The campaign gave users the freedom to select one of a number of coke related GIFs and asked them to add a caption describing how it made them feel. They were then able to tweet out their personalised GIFs on their own twitter accounts. However, “creative” users instead added outrageous captions which were a far cry from what Coca Cola had intended the campaign for.

A particular GIF featuring a Coke bottle being popped open and a man looking excited to drink it was given the caption “get the insulin ready”. The reference to it’s high sugar content, which it has long been criticised for, and connections to playing its part in causing diabetes can’t have gone down too well. While this was one of a few GIFs that poked holes at Coca-Cola, others simply steered away from what the campaign was initially intended for, with many providing amusing captions.

Walkers – Walkers Wave

Walkers Wave campaign

Walkers carried out a Twitter campaign to giveaway tickets to the 2017 Champions League final. The campaign worked in a similar fashion to that of the National Lottery, however followers were asked to submit pictures instead of names to be featured. In predictable fashion, it was only a matter of time until they were flooded with pictures of shamed celebs such as Rolf Harris and Jimmy Saville.

This once more sparked an outcry and Walkers were bashed for their lack of foresight for such a campaign.

National Environment Research Council – #NameOurBoat

National Environment Research Council #NameOurBoat campaign

The fallout from the National Environment Research Council (NERC’s) campaign was somewhat tame compared to what other brands had to experience, but it did certainly highlight the problem with giving the public complete autonomy over social campaigns.

They held a poll which allowed followers to submit and vote for a new name for their new Royal Research Ship. However while some names were serious, other suggestions were weren’t so much. The name that found itself in the lead, with a resounding margin when the campaign came to a close, was ‘RSS Boaty McBoatFace’.

NERC established that the name wasn’t quite appropriate for a £200m vessel, and so opted for ‘RRS David Attenborough’, which had received a fair few votes itself. However once followers found out that the winning name had been overlooked, they were far from impressed, slamming the campaign as a waste of time. In an attempt to appease their followers, NERC did name another smaller underwater ship Boaty McBoatface, but the damage had seemingly been done.

Final words

So it’s clear to see, giving users the freedom to contribute towards your campaign can never be considered failsafe, and while it can garner extra publicity, you should be well prepared for the many ways they could engage with your campaign.

If you do plan on carrying out a campaign similar to one suggested above then be sure you stay one step ahead of your followers. Keep an eye on what’s being said and how people are interacting with the campaign. This will allow you to react in a timely manner if something untoward is posted, which in turn will reduce any negative impact it could cause.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.