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The Worst Social Media Campaigns of 2017

Did you think I was only going to showcase the brands that absolutely rocked it on social media in 2017? Well, think again!

Social Media is an effective tool for all businesses, big and small, but to this day, brands are still messing up on all platforms and causing severe backlash.

I am here to shame specific brands because of poor judgement, awful decision-making and questionable approval processes. But don't just take my word for it, I reached out to some of my marketing friends to help me shame these brands too. We shame away, but we also provide constructive feedback and tips so your brand doesn't make the same mistakes.

Here we go...

  • Wendy's - Well, I hope you are still reading this article even though we tied the words "Worst Social Campaign" and Wendy's together. Everyone has been applauding Wendy's all year - they have a social media team that is quick, witty and always on top of the latest trends ... or not. During one of their hilarious response chains this year, Wendy's tweeted out the Pepe the Frog meme, dressed up as Wendy. Over the past year, this meme has supposedly become an anti-Semitic symbol - Wendy's community manager did not know this. Well, if he/she knew or not, this is still a FAIL. Jay's take on this, which is a great one, is "Wendy’s posted a meme that they didn’t know the history of connotations of. Remember kids - if you don’t know the meaning of a meme or GIF, don’t use it!" Seriously, always do your research...

  • Cinnabon - This campaign technically came at the end of 2016, but I am still going to count it because that means Cinnabon had the WORST label on them going into 2017. Carrie Fisher, legendary actress in Star Wars, unexpectedly passed away on December 27th, 2016. Family, friends, fans and fellow actors flooded social media with heartfelt goodbyes and lovely memories ... except for Cinnabon. In a now deleted tweet, the brand sent out a picture of what looked to be a cinnamon Princess Leia with cinnamon bun, buns. The tweet read, "RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy," yikes, more like RIP Cinnabon. Many thought this tweet was tasteless and tied product/brand promotion to someone's death - which is NOT OK. Jay's take is, "while the intent may have been sincere, brands who want to offer condolences for the passing of celebrities need to ensure that they are not using that death as a platform for their own product," and he is absolutely correct.

  • McDonald's - So far it is all about the fast food brands taking losses left and right on social media. First Cinnabon, then Wendy's, and now, most recently McDonald's jumped on the fail bandwagon. When it comes to real-time marketing and social media campaigns around holidays/events/etc. your brand must have a purpose for participating. If values, culture, products or solutions do not directly relate, do not post. McDonald's probably thought about this when coming up with Black Friday ideas, but they lacked execution ... or did they? On Black Friday, McDonald's sent out what seemed to be a placeholder tweet for the shopping "holiday." Some people thought this was sent out on purpose as a play on engagement/humor, but marketers like Fred and me saw through that - this was definitely an error, a pre-scheduled tweet that was never edited or pulled before a holiday break. Come on! This is like social media 101... Fred was torn when he saw the tweet, he didn't know whether to sympathize, empathize or just scream "SERIOUSLY?!" While this put McDonald's in the spotlight for a couple of days, it gave fuel to its witty competitors, like Wendy's, to fire back and be the most talked about again. "At the end of the day, while it will get some play next year as the "don't do what McDonald's did" for #BlackFriday, it will be forgotten soon enough. And that's the blessing and curse of social media. It goes by so fast, that unless you are the news, it is a moment in time -- not red on your ledger forever." ~Fred Faulkner - and yes, he knows the irony that anything on the Internet stays there forever....



My pick for the worst social campaign in 2017 is REALLY funny. No, the brand failing miserably is not funny, the reaction from their followers is, and they haven't deleted the post so I can have a solid laugh every day.

  • Food Network & Bev Weidner - Ironically enough, my pick is also related to food. UGH why is something so important and great such a disappointment on social media?! Food Network partnered with Bev Cooks (Bev Weidner,) a food blogger, to release cooking videos that are kid tested and parent-approved. Food Network succeeded immediately by producing video for their Facebook page - great tactic and use of platform! Success only lasted for a little bit though. The campaign hashtag was #momwins - well Bev, you may be a mom, but in this modern time, it isn't just the moms cooking for their kids any more. This could be Bev's mom win, but not all of Food Network's following base. Complete disregard of a diverse audience was not this campaign's only problem, and it was not the worst either. Food Network published maybe the dumbest video of all time on September 26th. And I know some of you are saying "what? the DUMBEST video?" - well read the 20K+ comments that agree with me here. In 1 minute and 30 seconds, Bev Cooks helped me realize that spreading peanut butter was a complete waste of time and that we should be freezing slabs of PB and placing them neatly on bread. How this video was approved is beyond me because the other videos in this campaign are actually useful. My thought is that this video was unnecessary for the #momwins campaign. Content shouldn't be created just for the sake of creation, there needs to be a purpose and your audience should receive value.


It seems as if 2017 wasn't the best for food brands on social media, what a shame! Luckily 2018 is almost here...


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