Twitter Brand Disasters We Can Learn From

Twitter is a great platform for getting the word out to the world about your company, as it functions in real time and your messages can travel like wildfire. However, Twitter’s biggest upside is also its biggest downside. When your tweets go wrong- the consequences can be far-reaching and snowball into disaster. It’s difficult to “take back” your tweet when it has already been retweeted, with the re-tweets retweeted, and so on. Let’s discuss these train wreck Twitter brand disasters, and be grateful that it didn’t happen to us.

DiGiorno’s infamous Twitter Mistake

The ultimate example of a company’s foot-in-mouth Twitter moment would have to go to DiGiorno. Following Janay Palmer Rice’s highly publicized decision to stay with NFL player Ray Rice after a particularly shocking domestic violence incident, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter.

Writer Beverly Gooden started the hashtag to change the conversation away from victim blaming (the media’s unfortunate reaction was asking “why did she stay?”) and towards drawing awareness to the complexities of domestic violence. She called on her followers to share their stories of domestic abuse with the hashtag #WhyIStayed, and Digiorno inserted itself into the discussion with this unfortunate tweet.


The backlash from Twitter was swift and relenting, even after the tweet had been deleted, which was only minutes later. DiGiorno quickly tweeted an apology: “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.” DiGiorno also personally responded to dozens of Twitter users offended by the post, which was a mature and winning way to deal with bad PR.

Rita Ora’s Twitter Blunder

Pop singer Rita Ora may have been overzealous when she attempted to engage with fans on Twitter.


She tweeted that she would release her new single on Monday if she got 100,000 retweets. Unfortunately for her, only 1,000 people retweeted her. She quickly deleted her original tweet, then retweeted what appeared to be a sympathetic tweet that read: “Where her 3.9m followers at when you need them.” Ora subsequently deleted that message as well. To recover from this awkward and embarrassing situation, she claimed that her account was “hacked.”


Let this be a lesson to all of us: be realistic about our goals, and don’t set ourselves up for failure.

Entenmann’s Unfortunate Hashtag

Back when the Casey Anthony case was taking the world by storm, Twitter was one of the top online platforms where people would keep up with the latest news about the trial. The media went into a firestorm at the verdict of the case: not guilty. The #notguilty hashtag began trending, and thousands of people were outraged and saddened by the outcome, as it seemed to many like justice was not served after the death of a child.


Too soon, Entenmann’s, too soon. Their tweet was slammed as completely insensitive, and Entenmann’s quickly deleted their tweet and apologized. Do your research before you tweet and be careful of what message you’re sending!

Bing’s Promotion Tying to Japan’s Tragic Earthquake Flopped

Although self-promotion is rampant on Twitter, it’s still frowned upon when it’s in poor taste.

Bing decided to run a campaign to raise money for earthquake victims in Japan which is no doubt laudable, but the campaign was seen as riding on the coattails of a tragedy that took the lives of thousands in order to increase Bing’s followers on Twitter. Needless to say, the tweet backfired.


It was perceived it as an exploitative marketing campaign that didn’t convey altruistic intentions. Someone started the #fuckbing hashtag for people to use to bash the brand, and it gained traction. Bing later apologized in a manner of fact way that should’ve been warmer; this was a lost opportunity for them. However, they donated the full $100,000.

The American Red Cross’ Drunken Mistake

An employee of The American Red Cross accidentally tweeted a personal message on the nonprofit’s official account.


In the grand scheme of things, this was not quite a disaster and was amusing to many. However, it was unprofessional and gave a warning to other companies to protect their account from careless employees.

The American Red Cross showed us how to brush your shoulders off after a mistake and come out ahead. They tweeted a follow-up saying, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober, and we’ve confiscated the keys.” Their self-deprecating humor was well-received by the Twitter community.

Dogfish Head, the beer brand mentioned in the tweet, got involved too. It used the #gettingslizzerd hashtag to encourage donations to the Red Cross. This response was a best case scenario for what can happen after a Twitter slip-up.

Tips for avoiding & dealing with Twitter crises:

  • As is expected for Twitter, it is best to avoid a problem rather than apologize later. Try to avoid issues before they blow up in your face by screening each hashtag before you jump on the trending bandwagon. Ask applicable people, even with a quick survey, about their thoughts on a social media campaign before it runs.
  • Exercise damage control. If a tweet is offensive, misleading, or causing unwanted reactions, then delete it quickly. Retweets can cause more problems. If an apology is called for, apologize sincerely and clear up any misunderstandings and set the record straight.
  • Be transparent. If your intentions were misconstrued and any sort of malice was falsely attributed to your tweet, stand up for yourself and explain what you meant. Although this calls attention to the tweet under scrutiny, it’s better than letting it go unresolved and potentially cutting ties with customers.

Author Bio:

Leeyen Rogers is the VP of Marketing at JotForm, a popular online forms platform based in San Francisco. Its simple drag-and-drop interface along with conveniently sortable submission data allows you to create forms and analyze their data without writing a single line of code. JotForm is the solution for online payments, contact forms, lead collection, surveys, registrations, applications, online booking, event registrations, and more.