“Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.” – Brandon Mull

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Social media has owned the personal sphere for awhile, but it has only recently really taken off across all sectors of the business world. As the professional use of social media has risen, so has the number of bloopers and blunders.

Here are some of the best…*ahem* I mean “worst” recent social media mishaps and some of the marketing lessons we learned as we watched them unfold.

The “Social Security” Issue

These days most major brands have a presence on Twitter and the other significant social media channels. Sometimes those brands get hacked. In fact, the ‘hackings’ have been happening to a lot of brands recently. Jeep, USA Today, and NBC News are among those to fall victim. One of the more notable is Burger King. Hackers posted the McDonald’s logo as their picture, tweeted about the company being sold, and sent out multiple tweets full of offensive material.

Credit: Associated Press

To make matters worse, the hacked account remained as it was for an hour and fifteen minutes before it was suspended. That’s a lifetime in today’s viral, social world.

Lesson Learned: Guard your social media accounts like you guard your bank account. Give access to these accounts only to those employees who prove themselves trustworthy. You should also keep a watchful eye on your account. In case the worst happens, you want to jump on the problem and shut it down before the hackers have a chance to do too much damage.

The Case of the Mixed Up Accounts

This year, there were a number of instances when an employee with access to the company social account mixed it up with their own personal account. The most notable of these is probably KitchenAid with the following tweet in response to a Barack Obama comment about his grandmother: “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president.”

KitchenAid quickly removed the tweet and apologized stating that “the tasteless tweet in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore”.

Lesson Learned: For account managers: triple check that you are on the right account before you tweet. It may also be a best practice to avoid offensive tweets altogether.

The Too Quick to Trend Mistake

We all remember the horrible shooting at the theater in Aurora. Unfortunately, the folks over at Celeb Boutique were not paying attention to the news that day. After noticing that #Aurora was trending they quickly jumped on it and posted the following promotional tweet:

Needless to say, the public reaction against the tweet was intense.

Lesson Learned: Take a few minutes to investigate why something is trending on social media. The simplest way to investigate is to bring up the ‘discover’ page for that trend. Most of the time, there isn’t going to be a tragedy behind that trend. But it may be getting a lot of negative retweets that could also end up reflecting badly on your brand.  Of course, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to what’s going on in the world anyways. Next time, you might be the one starting the trend!

Keep an eye out for part 2 of our social media bloopers and lessons learned next week.

In the mean time, what are some of your favorite media mishaps?