Three Situations Where Social Media Has Hurt Businesses: Learning From The Pros

Sometimes the best lessons to learn from are blunders made by someone else, in this case, another company. While a blunder in our personal lives may call for a face palm and a bit of embarrassment, a blunder for a company not only hurts reputation but can also cost the company millions of dollars. Let’s take a look at three situations where social media actually hurt a business rather than helping a business – as it’s original intention was for.


Lululemon has recently seen their share of social media marketing failure when they attempted to localize a Lululemon store in Buffalo, North Carolina. After two years of market research to understand the Buffalonians with the goal to associate the brand to the locals, Lululemon erected a floor mosaic with the slogan “wide right, no goal”.

Despite the market research conducted by Lululemon, Buffalonians found this slogan inappropriate and a stab at their sports failures that included a Super Bowl and Stanley Cup loss.

“What this felt like was someone who Googled ‘Top sports phrases in Buffalo, NY’ and didn’t bother to dig deeper to understand why those phrases were popular to begin with or the meaning behind them,” said Katie Krawczyk, director of marketing and communication at 19 Ideas. “It also pulls the curtain back a bit on how these megabrands can be really out of touch with their everyday consumer.”

Domino Pizza

Sometimes the result of social media brings to light content that was not part of the original marketing plan. In 2009, two employees from Domino’s Pizza were recorded sneezing and spitting on food. Consumer perception about Domino’s quickly changed from positive to negative. In an attempt to remedy this, the company trashed all food containers – which cost that chain hundreds of dollars, and lost even more money from the loss of business and consumer trust.

New York City Police Department

In April of 2014, the NYC Police Department, in an effort to integrate social media, asked people to tweet experiences with the cops by using the hashtag #myNYPD. Rather than finding themselves overwhelmed with positive content, more than 10,000 negative tweets were generated per hour. Twitter exploded with uncomplimentary pictures of the NYPD in a negative and sarcastic light.

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