Social Media On the Job FAIL

Fails in the social networking world don’t always lay at the feet of mega-corporations or the very famous. Sometimes it is a regular Joe/Jane that does something that is so filled with fail that you have to wonder if their mother had any kids who lived. Yeah, that is incredibly harsh to say, but sometimes the magnitude of fail is such that there is no other explanation. Today, we’ll take a look at some very well known social networking fails as well as a few you likely missed – and this isn’t about prolonging their torture. It is so you can see what they did wrong, how it impacted them and know what not to do to wind up in the same position.

In 2009, a young lady from California named Connor Riley – someone that basically grew up in the digital age – landed a job with Cisco. For most 22 year olds a job with good pay, benefits and plenty of upside would be a dream, particularly given how bad the economy is.  Instead of going online and bragging about scoring a primo job, she decided to go online and bitch about it – and keep in mind she hadn’t worked day one yet . Not even minute 1.

Her tweet that she didn’t know if the “fatty paycheck” was worth how much she knew she’d be “hating the work.” The thing about Cisco is that they have people that monitor mentions of their company. They do monitor their  brand online. A Cisco employee saw the tweet and decided to pass it on to HR. HR saw it and passed it on up the line. Before she ever started the job she was fired from the job. In 2010, Riley landed a job with Bittorrent as the rumor goes, and hopefully has enjoyed that seeing as they are pretty close to being extinct – while Cisco is still going strong comparatively speaking.

Anyone remember NFL running back Larry Johnson, formerly of the KC Chiefs? His Twitter tirade referring to people’s “broke ass mom birthed you broke”, another fellow “wit your fag pic” along with the usual references to people being little girls or and just so much crap – spelled so incorrectly even for Twitter shorthand – that I’m not sure he left any group un-offended.

The team wasn’t happy about him doing that – no one that makes money from the type of people he ripped mercilessly wants to be anywhere near that kind of mess. He became toxic property within minutes. Not only did the people he worked for and with want nothing to do with him, 32,000 Chiefs fans petitioned the team to immediately release him – and they did.

In a matter of just over two years, Johnson went from a pro Bowl player with superstar written all over him to rushing for a mere 208 yards and no touchdowns before finally being released from his 4th team in 2 ½ seasons. No team has even entertained giving Johnson a shot at making a roster spot since.

A woman over in the UK, who to this day remains unknown to all, decided to rip her boss on Facebook calling him a “pervy wanker” that made her do “sh*t stuff”. What she forgot however is that she added her boss, the alleged pervy wanker, to her friend list so he was able to see her mini tirade along with everyone else. His response to her – on that thread no less, was priceless.

He first pointed out that although he didn’t prance like a queen, he was gay and it was no secret. He had no reason to take any pervy interest in her. Also, the “sh*t stuff” she was asked to do was her job – and she didn’t do it well. Finally he wrapped up reminding her that she was 2 weeks shy of finishing her trial period – which was now not necessary as she was being let go.

I iz ur boss... lookin' at ur Facebook.

Just for fun, who can forget Kevin Colvin, AKA Pixie Fail, who got busted in a rather embarrassing way. Colvin was working as an intern at a bank when he called boss to tell him that he needed a day off at the end of October due to a “family emergency”. As you can guess, the only emergency Colvin was facing was figuring out how to get to a Halloween party – it was that time of the year. In almost no time at all, Colvin was busted.

He went to a party dressed as a full on fairy – or maybe it was supposed to be a pixie. Either way he was holding a wand of some sort in one hand and can of beer in the other. Did I forget to mention people took pictures of him – lots of pictures. They went all over his friend’s Facebook pages. Worse that that, they were time-stamped so there was no arguing these were old pics from last year.

They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last. Fail Kitty has a whole tub filled with social networking and social media fail. The big players make mistakes and the little guys make mistakes. The famous do it just the same as the guy next door. If you take nothing from this today but one thing, make it be this one guiding mantra:  It is not only possible to over-share online, it is a very bad idea as well.


Susan G. Komen FAIL

Corporations that have supported the Susan G. Komen foundation over the years have quickly learned a valuable lesson about social media management – the company you keep does matter! Just like in real life, you are often judged by the company you keep.  After the Komen Foundation announced they were going to pull all financial support from Planned Parenthood on the basis that PP was under investigation for accusations of illegally using taxpayer money to provide abortions, a storm started brewing.

The Komen foundation has since reversed course and will continue to help fund breast cancer screenings and services through PP, but for many, the damage has been done. The Komen Foundation has plenty of PR repair to do on their own, but so to do many of their corporate giving partners. Seeing how different companies have responded to the situation, to keep it simple just on Facebook,  provides us with a valuable lesson in SMM – and a handbook in how to stay off Fail Kitty’s radar.

How I canz get my 8 breast exams now??

  • Microsoft is sanitizing their wall. Posts made directly to their wall questioning their support for SKG are removed. They have not however been able to keep the comments hammering them for their SKG support out of the comments on their own posts. They are not addressing the issue in any way – just deleting post after post and blocking users that try posting SKG related threads multiple times. Their wall looks mostly nice and clean, but covering up is not really handling the issue.
  • Nordstroms is getting hit hard, and it is a dual whammy for them. Not only are they having all their posts flooded with SGK related negativity, they are getting flooded with angry posts over people tired of them getting piles of notices from their Pinterest updates who are reporting them for spam and TOS violations for improper use of boards. Nordstroms is taking the lazy route – they are pulling new threads related to SGK, but they aren’t responding to the comments slamming them. They just keep posting fresh stuff and pretending they don’t see it.
  • Payless Shoe Source, who usually does it right when it comes to SMM, have done nothing! Their page has been submerged in negativity. They not only aren’t answering the posts or deleting them, they aren’t even managing the account for over 48 hours now. They went dead in the water. Not a good strategy at all. This was a huge surprise – we’ve pointed to Payless in the past as an example of how to do Facebook right.
  • Otis Spunkmeyer took a minimalist approach. They addressed the issue one time. They stated they were looking into everything regarding their relationship with SGK, said they would make a decision on what to do going forward, but that they were not commenting further at this time. That was all it took to keep people from piling on them. Their FB page went back to business as usual almost immediately.
  • Pepperidge Farm actually did cut ties with SGK a month ago, but SGK has not yet removed them from their corporate sponsor list, so PF got a dose of it all as well. They decided to answer each post personally. Doing that looks professional, it explains they when and why of how their relationship with SGK ended, and it builds good relationships with the people they engage. Aside from one brain damaged troll that either can’t read or won’t quit because it is all he has to do with his life, the Pepperidge Farm page is rolling along smoothly.

Five different companies with five different approaches to the same problem. One is filled with more tiger blood and win than Charlie Sheen ever dreamed of. Another is weak but acceptable. Two are oblivious and while not full of fail, they certainly have a dose of fail around the edges. Payless however, of all companies, is full of FAIL on this one.


  • Old Navy had NO flak on their wall, which made me suspicious. I posted a query asking for a comment, and it was promptly removed. They did a better mop-up job than Microsoft or Nordstrom’s did – they must have pulled whole comment threads if anyone posted a reply that mentioned the issue. So they look squeaky clean, but elsewhere are getting called out for their refusal to respond.
  • Energizer stated they are donating $50K to a local hospital to be earmarked for mammograms for underserved women. They did not say what their action in the matter of supporting SGK would be.
  • The Republic of Tea issued a statement saying they were passing on all of their customers concerns directly to SGK, and were going to review the advisability of their own “Sip for the Cure” campaign in light of recent events.

Dolce & Gabbana FAIL

Even though Dolce & Gabbana wish it would go away, the social network activity surrounding the total mess the Tsim Sha Tsui store became viral. The problem didn’t begin online, but the use of social networks to alert everyone to the problem and D&G’s total failure to respond is why they make the Fail Kitty list of naughty, naughty companies.

As the story goes, about 2 weeks ago some locals were taking pictures outside of the D&G flagship store at Tsim Sha Tsui. One of D&G’s security force approached the photographer, who was a local, and informed him that only mainland Chinese and foreign tourists were allowed to take photos outside of the store. You can see where this is going, right?

Within about 3 hours, the story spread by text and calls and tweets until a Facebook page popped up calling for the boycott of the store. Initially, a couple thousand likes of the page came in – then it grew really fast. It spread to blogs, it was tweeted, it hit mainstream news in Hong Kong and then spread around the world in 72 hours. As of now, the Facebook page has over 24,000 likes and is still growing.

Through social networks, a protest was arranged for the storefront that drew somewhere around 1,000 people. D&G got flat out torched everywhere – not just in Hong Kong and not just on Facebook. In a feeble attempt to do some form of damage control, D&G released the following statement, printed in Forbes:

“A well-known mainlander, possibly a government official, was reportedly shopping in the store last month when he noticed people outside taking photographs. A complaint was made to D&G because the customer feared netizens would link the shopping spree to corruption. Then D&G instigated the ban. D&G’s statement strongly denied making any racist or derogatory comments. Controversial statements reported in the Hong Kong press have not been made by Dolce & Gabbana nor its staff.”

"Why humans willingly pay a thousand bucks for a pair of these things I'll never understand..."

That was really about all they did. No apology. No offer to make things right. Just a denial – and placing the blame on “netizens” in a nice roundabout way. That sparked wave 2 which just got more people mad and caused D&G to basically have to pull a temporary shutdown of many of their social sites and pages because they not only waited too long to process the flames they got, they couldn’t keep up.

They could have controlled the problem if they reacted online early and addressed the issue. They didn’t. They could have saved tons of time and money sanitizing the comments that appeared un-moderated and live if they had actual mods – but that didn’t happen. Instead, they allowed a terrible localized problem to spread world wide.

All together now – – – FAIL!  (Don’t you love the look of disgust on Zoe’s kitty face?)

Update – According to NY Fashion, a Hong Kong store has poked a little fun at Dolce’s expense – see the inside joke here!