2014 Social Media recap

As 2014 wraps up, it is always a good idea to look back on the year and reflect how you may be able to improve in the year ahead. It’s not just true for individuals, many brands do this as well. When it comes to social media, there were definitely some big wins and fails for the major brands. Which companies were the biggest winners and losers when it came to social media this year? Read on to find out:

McDonalds – The Good
A major global event, the Olympics, kept the attention of fans across the globe for two weeks in February. McDonalds created a Twitter campaign and urged followers to tweet inspiration to the athletes with the hashtag #CheersToSochi. In turn, McDonald’s sponsored an interactive billboard in the Athlete’s Village where these tweets were displayed. Though McDonald’s has certainly had their marketing blunders, this is one time where they had a definite win.

The lesson: Inspiration leads to engagement. Take advantage of it on social media, but make sure to have a strong filter.

Delta Airlines – The Bad
One of the biggest global events this year was the World Cup. The US team surprised everyone by making it pretty far through the rankings. It was so surprising, in fact, that for the first time, the country had soccer fever. In an attempt to utilize the attention, many companies jumped to social media to support the team. Some, like Delta Airlines, however, moved too fast. The US team played Ghana and won, something that wasn’t supposed to happen, so Delta tweeted out a photo of the Statue of Liberty on one side and a giraffe on the other. Next to these photos were the scores of each team. What makes this so bad? Not only is it a national monument compared to a stereotypical and insensitive image, but more importantly there are no giraffes in Ghana.

The lesson: Fact checking—and general cultural sensitivity—is your friend.

Samsung – The Good
Most people know about the most epic selfie of all time, taken by Bradley Cooper at the Oscars this year. What most people don’t know, however, is that Samsung was behind it! Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted the show, was taking photos on her Samsung Galaxy Note 3 throughout the night. This was a brilliant marketing ploy by Samsung and a feel good selfie for all involved. The tweet went on to be the most re-tweeted of all time. The best part? It didn’t feel staged.

The lesson: Make your advertising (especially with stars) look organic.

DiGiorno Pizza – The Bad
Domestic violence has become a central issue this year with sports stars such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson moving it into the national—and social—spotlight. In an attempt to promote understanding and tolerance after the Ray Rice video was released, victims of domestic violence shared their stories under the hashtag #whyIstayed or #whyIleft. Twitter became a forum under which victims and others could interact and better understand the issue. When DiGiorno Pizza joined the conversation, it was clear that their social media representative had no idea what the hashtag was about. The company came off sounding incredibly ignorant and insensitive to an important issue.

The lesson: Understand the conversation before you join it.

Always – The Good
Finally, we have a mega-win for Always. The company put together a viral campaign this year using the hashtag, #LikeAGirl, a reference to the insult, “you throw like a girl.” The campaign used girls and women to empower girls and women by illustrating the change in self confidence that takes place around puberty. It was, and continues to be, a huge success because it shows a deeper understanding of Always’ audience, its hopes, and what it expects from the future.

The lesson: When you understand your audience, you empower it.

NYPD – The Ugly
The worst twitter fail of this year goes to the New York Police Department with its PR nightmare tag #myNYPD. In April of this year, the NYPD launched a social media campaign asking New Yorkers to take photos of themselves with their neighborhood cops. Boy, did it backfire. Twitter users gave the NYPD seemingly exactly what it wanted, by posting unflattering photos of officers arresting or using force against its citizens. In the wake of racial and police tensions this year, the hashtag continues to plague police in New York and elsewhere.

The lesson: Social media truly needs strategy. Think before you act.

As 2015 quickly approaches, many companies will be thinking about how they can be the next big thing on social media and have a campaign go viral. If you are one of them, play it smart and think things through before posting. Bad marketing and PR campaigns affect more than just sales. They can also tank your company’s hiring, morale, and overall reputation. You certainly don’t want to end up on the fail list in 2015 and beyond.

This is a guest post by Katherine Wood.  Katherine writes about people, technology, and business solutions as Managing Editor for Talent Tribune.