3 stupid Facebook mistakes by big brands


Facebook is a revolution in every sense of the world.

It has fundamentally changed how people communicate with each other on a daily basis and has started to give power back to the people as brands suddenly find there is no where to hide.

If done correctly it is also a powerful tool for brands to communicate with its advocates on a regular, efficient, and effective manner.

Most companies don’t use Social Media effectively, choosing instead to use it as one of many touch points within an extensive Brand IMC and, more importantly, trying not to do things wrong.

But many do get it wrong, here’s three stupid Facebook mistake from some big brands that should have known better.

Cornetto UK – Timing is everything

Cornetto sell ice creams, or possibly Summer memories by the seaside, or maybe childhood obesity.

Definably one of those three and I’m sure ice cream is in there somewhere.

Cornetto is an easy brand to get right on Social Media due its positive associations with holidays, childhood and happy memories. Inspiring any of these is simple to do and will reinforce your brand values whilst also driving sales and brand superiority.

So how did they get things wrong? How about commenting the dreaded ‘Happy Friday’ status update as the country was in a two minute silence for Remembrance Day.

Its a classic error from automating your updates, ignoring the world around you, and being unoriginal/boring. And it caused some very awkward comments in response.

This is an easy situation to fix so it doesn’t happen again.

Don’t automate you status updates. If you do this it is clear no one will be monitoring the account when the message goes out and can respond to any reactions, and if no one is monitoring your own account, why the hell are you on social media at all?

Be aware of what is happening in the world around you. Misjudging the mood of the your fan group and/or the general population is stupid mistake to make. You don’t necessarily have to make a comment on what is happening in the world but ignoring it completely is dangerous.

There is some places for brand to play a role, but if a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster is taking place, its time to be quiet.

Finally but most importantly…

Please, please, please stop commenting about it being ‘Friday’ or how your ‘looking forward to the weekend’. Virtually all brands seem to do this now a days. Its boring, doesn’t add anything to your brand and is a waste of time.

Think up something a little bit more interesting that might actual develop a meaningful reaction please!

Smirnoff GB – Suitable subject matter

Smirnoff (an alcohol Brand) decided it was a good idea to make a status update about Drink Driving.

Yep that’s right, Drink Driving.

Surely everyone can see that this is a monumentally stupid idea from the off set. Can’t they?

I would have loved to have been in the meeting the PR/Digital/Social Media Agency that suggested this as a good idea and watched everyone nod in agreement.

Off course drink driving is a horrible thing that wrecks lives, but why did Smirnoff think that this was a good way to relate to its online community?

Imagine a Gun manufacturer talking about armed robbery, or Kitchen knife seller talking about stabbing?

Even if the intention is to condemn it, surely it is obvious that the community doesn’t need or want to be reminded that your product/brand is related to horrible things.

But what is more unbelievable about this instance is how badly it was worded. Who ever was responsible for this must have realised about the potentially sensitive nature of this comment and that it would need to be worded incredibly carefully?

The phrasing of it as a status update meant the Brand Name was position exactly next to the words ‘Drink Driving’. The condemning of it was phrased cryptically near to the end of the sentence which meant it was also very easy to misinterpret the message.

Which is exactly what happened…

…and could have probably been predicted given the expected target market for Smirnoff and their Facebook group.

The predictable apology came soon after but when you have to do that it just shows how the damage was already done.

The other Facebook campaigns Smirnoff have organised (Night life exchange program etc) have been excellent and a real lesson in how to run activity worth sharing. This blip shouldn’t really affect them in the grand scheme of things but is a shining example of how easy it is to get Social Media wrong by misjudging what is suitable.

Nestle – Understand what Social Media is

OK, this one has been done to death online and there are countless blogs that have reviewed it in greater detail than I will here. What I really like about it is that it quickly became the gold standard of how to handle a situation on Facebook badly.

For those that don’t know about it. Nestle started a fan page and decided it would start deleting comments it didn’t like and thought it would be a good idea to start arguing back with people on their page.

Having a public spat is never good and Nestle completely misunderstood the capability of Social Media and what its purpose is.

People talk to each other, that’s what Social Media is all about. If you want to you use it for marketing purposes you need to cultivate the community not force the corporate message down its throat.

What your brand stands for is now so much more than what is in your advertising. It is the front facing element of every level of your organisation. From the experience of using the products, calling customer service, the product testing protocol, sustainability policy, or an employee typing in a Facebook status.

They all represent the brand whether you like it not so you better get used to it if your going to play in the Social Media arena.

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I’m a 30 year old Digital Marketing Manager currently living in NY. I love all things digital, Cardiff City FC, eating, and Glastonbury festival. I spend most of my life online and, in case you haven’t noticed, like to talk about myself a lot. Follow Tom


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  2. Gerald Martin

    Wow, those are indeed huge mistakes. I really don’t go for the automation of my updates. I’d rather use social media as a way to interact people in a positive way even if they say something that’s negative. I wouldn’t fight those people who I think are going to be beneficial to my business.

    = Gerald Martin, Resell SEO =

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