Tempting as it is to wrestle our head of social media to the ground and begin tweeting from the company account so I can tell everyone exactly what I really think of them, I’ve learnt from other brands’ experiences. It never ends well.

Also, Matt’s a lot bigger than me.

This isn’t the first collection of social fails to feature on the blog. David Moth did a brilliant round-up of the top social fails to celebrate the end of 2013.

The rest of us had a drink and spent time with our loved-ones but David, the committed devil he is, made sure his deadline was met.

As it has been a busy year for social media already and with even more brands making their presence felt through various channels old and new, the half-way point seems like a good time to highlight some of the most thunderously idiotic uses of social media from the last six months.

Why do we do this? Well I would be lying if I didn’t say for pure schadenfreude, but also I genuinely feel that this is a helpful tool. The wise man learns from his own mistakes.

An even wiser man learns from other people’s mistakes and is grateful they’re not his own. Or something.

UX: the new scapegoat

PayPal’s director of global strategy, Rakesh “Rocky” Agrawal attended a jazz festival during a balmy New Orleans evening in May, and perhaps seized by the very spirit of jazz itself, decided to take to Twitter and verbally abuse his colleagues, including PayPal’s vice president of global communications Christina Smedley.

The barely legible tweets are long since deleted, but here are the screen-grabs courtesy of CBC News via Business Insider.

Inexplicably, Agrawal then decided to court the co-founder of Foursquare with this extremely tempting offer.

Afterwards Agrawal would use a variety of excuses for his behaviour.

Sleep deprivation, work stress, long hours and also the UX of Twitter and his new Android phone, believing he had been sending direct messages to a colleague.

Oh Agrawal, if only you’d said what was really going on: that the jazz had invaded and corrupted your mind, like so many beatniks in the 50s, and you were compelled to do it, in the same way that Miles Davis was compelled to rail against ‘the man’ on his seminal album Kind of Blue.

PayPal’s response was swift and decisive.


After JK Rowling donated £1m to the pro-UK campaign ‘Better Together’, she received this missive from The Dignity Project, a charity that helps children in Africa.

Whatever your opinion of Scottish independence, this is clearly an act of abuse. The Dignity Project has since issued this disclaimer, claiming that its account was hacked.

If this proves nothing else, your company should have strict security when it comes to social media channels, with passwords changed regularly and not given out freely to all and sundry.


There was a particular tweet sent during the whole #GiveGregTheHoliday Twitter-fest in May that really shows the difficult balance of jumping on a hashtag. 

Many brands hijacked this top trending hashtag, which came out of nowhere, with largely relevant tweets that helped raise their own profiles, create a wave of distracting joy and even added to Stephen Sutton’s fundraising efforts thanks to the eponymous Greg’s generous donation.

However not all of the tweets were relevant. Some were desperate, attention seeking and in the case of Cellecta Insulation, bizarrely wide of the mark.

At the time this stuck out as being particularly pathetic, but now that a couple of months have passed, I look at this tweet with renewed appreciation.

In fact I think this may now be my most favourite ever tweet. Such brazenness, such absurdity.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving too… I’ve only just noticed that it’s not actually offering Greg any free soundproofing, it’s just offering advice. Plus… HE’LL BE ON HOLIDAY!!! Sorry for shouting, I assume you might need a louder volume thanks to all the soundproofing you rushed out to buy last month.

‘In honour of Martin Luther King Jr’ corner

Here are some of the very worst examples of brands co-opting this year’s MLK Day for its own use. Pornhub’s effort is particularly gobsmacking.

Give the people what they want

Audi’s recent #PaidMyDues campaign caused a little consternation amongst its Instagram followers.

The campaign saw Audi promoting its new A3 Sedan by asking followers to tweet, Instagram or Vine their real-life triumphs over adversity, with the most inspiring ones being reinterpreted by a variety of artists during a six-hour live event.

The finished works of art were then auctioned off for charity via eBay. A neat idea, but one that seemed to just confuse Instagram followers who were more used to cool pictures of cars rather than portraits of semi-obscure, unrelated artists. 

Although more people had a problem with the hair dangling into the salad rather than anything else.

Let’s Get Social

Sometimes things go viral not for the reasons you originally wanted it to go viral for.

I may be one of the few people who watched this and felt nothing but glee. From the ranking of bacon as the third most important thing to share after your pets and kids, to the unbelievably toneless ‘backing singing(?)’ to the rap… The rap!

You may want to take a break from the internet for at least a week after this one.

Oh God, I can’t believed I listened to it again.

Bad Dad

Happy Father’s Day from the team behind Mad Men!

Or as Ed from LittleBigPicture.co.uk points out: Happy Absent, Unreliable Father’s Day! being as it features Don Draper, a man who’s epic philandering knows no boundaries.

NYPD Black and Blue

The NYPD asked Twitter users to share photos of themselves and NYPD officers using the hashtag #myNYPD. I’m not quite sure what the NYPD thought would happen other than this onslaught… 

And the winner is…

Here’s The Academy on Oscar night Instagramming a picture of Penelope Cruz with Robert De Niro. It’s a little difficult to read but it seems The Academy has confused Cruz with Salma Hayek, the ‘other’ Hispanic female actor.

Poor research or accidental racism? Either way it proves there needs to be more diversity in Hollywood cinema.

Priceless surprises

In a glorious piece of revenge hashtag-hijacking, Brit Awards’ sponsor MasterCard, or more accurately its PR company, got what it deserved last February. 

Journalists were asked by the PR company to agree to certain demands before they were given press accreditation for the event, including: a guarantee that the journalists will use social media from both publication and personal accounts to live-tweet the event, to link to specific pre-event coverage and specific YouTube videos afterwards and all tweets must carry the #PricelessSurprises hashtag.

Thanks to The Telegraph’s Tim Walker and a leaked email via Press Gazette, word got out and the hashtag soon became something quite different.


The Bonneville is a new pub that’s opened in Hackney just this week. Last weekend (14 June) a young man entered the pub during its launch party, asking for help after apparently being stabbed across the road.

This led to some incredibly uncaring and inconsiderate tweets over the course of the night.

Image courtesy of The Mirror. 

Along with a further reply of “some kid got stabbed over the road and decided to run into ours. Great look for our first week”

Most followers were rightly enraged by the offending remarks and a grovelling apology followed the next day.

Picking the wrong battle at the wrong time 

Republican politicians had a field day mocking Michelle Obama’s solemn addition to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter posted her own ‘witty rejoinder’ to back up here own agenda and in doing so forgot all basic notions of humanity, common sense and the fact that 300 Nigerian girls have been kidnapped. 

Liberal media soon fought back though…

Game of Thrones corner

The current series of Game of Thrones has come to an end, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this but… the internet really likes Game of Thrones. No fooling!

Therefore Game of Thrones regularly pops up as the most trending topic and therefore the cavalcade of hijacking begins.

These are some of the more tenuous examples, with thanks to SocialBro.

And one I just simply don’t understand. 

That’s your lot for now. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve found any others from the last six months. 

Be sure to check out our weekly round-up of weird and wonderful things we found on the internet for more cheek and hijinks. 

Our Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.