The internet has a LONG memory, and it is not something you want to get caught being remembered for when it’s bad. Yes, the old saying goes, ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ but unless you’re comfortably wealthy and don’t need people anymore – best not to test that one.


  1. Politics. Kitchen Aid is known for their kitchen appliances, but they really botched their social media strategy by jumping into a political arena, and then managing to be insulting and rude. As we’ll go over shortly, politics and business marketing don’t mix.
  2. Pop culture reference fails. Granted, Bridesmaids was a funny movie and certainly a hit… however, trying to use what was clearly a comedic point in the movie for an insensitive post is not a good idea. Don’t make fun of the disadvantaged, most of them are trying as hard as they can to make a living just like the rest of us. Success doesn’t come off the backs of those who struggle, and what is worse is that it is a federal program in the USA intended to help people get student loans for school.
  3. Don’t capitalize on disasters. Gap is a widely known retailer of high-end clothing, but they could have been a lot more sensitive about the disaster that was Hurricane Sandy instead of trying to capitalize on a horrible event. Don’t try to make money off a disaster, it doesn’t end well. (Think boycotts, blacklists, strikes, closing down your social media and maybe your doors to your business entirely.)
  4. Expletives = BIG fail. Sometimes you can’t help it when a rogue employee decides to post what they really feel on your social media. They know, or can guess they’ll be fired, but the damage is already done. Nokia posted F*&% you on their Twitter and obviously it exploded. We shouldn’t have to say that using swear words or offensive language is severely frowned upon in social media. Keep it classy.
  5. ANYTHING to do with race. This is truly one of those facepalm moments, because as with politics, or religion – one should not attempt to make money off anyone else’s struggle. Recall number 2 as well. It doesn’t matter if the business identifies with that struggle, or that race, or anything else… it could have a staff comprised of entirely the same race as their advertisement, and it’s still wrong. This clothing store not only threw Martin Luther King into their campaign unwillingly, they also brazenly offered a sale on everything “black”.  Yep, we hear crickets too.

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We’ve given you some really embarrassing examples, now it’s time to go over all the other many things which can trip up even a seasoned social media manager.


It doesn’t matter if you’re complaining about employees, customers, or even the weather. People aren’t coming to your social media page to come under a cloud. Nobody wants negative feelings from a simple social media post. If you feel you must vent about negative things going on with your business, or yourself, there are multitudes of places much better than social media to air them.


This may seem like it should be under complaints, but it really is a far different thing. A rant is passionate, driven, and usually somewhat lengthy. It conveys a feeling about something important to the poster in a way that tears down any opposition before that opposition has even been heard. Perhaps the worst part about a rant is that if anyone should respond to this emotionally driven post, the original poster will answer with the same level of passion and fervor. This doesn’t work well for anyone especially for those with differing opinions than the one posted.

Criticism of Public Figures

There is a lot to be said about networking using famous people, or people who are trending, but don’t criticize them publicly on social media. If you’re going to ride on their successful coattails, do it with class and say something nice. Leave the judgmental stuff at the door, nobody wants to see it.


This one is easy. Just don’t. It doesn’t matter how well you can support a reason to do it. Don’t do it at all, because nothing good has ever come from arguing politics in public. If you’re trying to be available to as many people as possible, and want to snare those additional potential clients, posting your political leanings is not the way to do it. You don’t want to alienate your potential clients before they’ve even gotten to know your brand. Refer back to the first photo at the top. Don’t be Kitchen Aid.


This one is also an easy one, because nothing will stir up the public quite so much as religion and politics. Religion is extremely sensitive, and people deserve the right to believe whatever they want. There are so many different religions out there, even some which are considered anti-religion religions like Pastafarianism and you just can never be sure if what you’re saying about religion, or using the word “God” etc, is going to offend. It’s best to just keep religious leanings, or biases/judgments to yourself. If your church for instance, is against some part of modern society – it has nothing to do with your business interests. Just look up the troubles Hobby Lobby has had. Best not to mix religion and business.

Creepy Questions

It’s fine to want your audience to be engaged, and there is no better way to do that than to ask a question rather than make a statement, but make sure you don’t ask questions that are on the creepy side. You want to stay away from asking people anything about their family, marital status, where they live, and anything else that sounds more like it comes from a windowless white van than from a reputable business.

Choosing a Group to Ridicule

Recall number 2 from our photos of business fails above. Never, ever, call out any people who fit under any umbrella term. This extends from social status based on personal wealth, to race, religion, creed, culture – you name it. Be sensitive and don’t post something that can offend an entire group of people.

Fake News/Clickbait

Nobody likes this… nobody. At best you’ll get naive people sharing your post and believing what it says. Satire news sites have been operating off of this for at least ten years now, and there will always be that person who gets offended when they are called out on social media for re-posting bogus news and for believing it in the first place. It’s embarrassing for the person who shared it, who came from your site, and was your client…”was” being the operative word. Nobody wants to feel humiliated, and nobody wants to be deceived.  Don’t post fake news, or misleading article titles.

Talking Down Your Competitors

This is just poor sport entirely, and will inevitably only serve to make you look bad. Think about the last time you played a board game or card game with someone who lost badly and always loses badly. Nobody wants to play with them anymore and they don’t get invited back. Your customers are fickle creatures and will absolutely leave if they see you hitting below the belt. Your competitors may have something you can learn from, and you would do better to share their posts and seek to have them do the same instead. Try networking with your biggest competitors, or seeing what they’re doing right instead.

Personal Issues

This could be anything from medical problems, deaths of a family member or friend, or any other personal drama. It doesn’t belong on a business page meant for social media. If you’re going through a hard time, you should discuss it with your friends and your family, and barring that – a counselor or psychologist, but definitely not social media. Impressions of your business are not to be trifled with, and few people are comfortable doing business with someone who doesn’t appear able to handle crises or their own emotions. Keep your personal “laundry” as it were, inside.

Bad Days/Bad Nights

If you’re having a bad day or just not feeling it and you still have to post something for the day, make sure it doesn’t come off as apathetic as you feel. You are entitled to a bad day, but nobody else should feel it from what you post. The same can be said of a bad night. If you were out partying the night before, even if it was at a hotel’s conference hall for a business seminar, it’s not for sharing with social media. You can certainly post photos of you networking with other big names while there, but maybe leave out the ones where you got a little too tipsy. This also goes for posting while drunk… that’s a HUGE no.

Closing Thoughts

Most of this is common sense to a lot of people, but if it were truly that common, nobody would ever make these mistakes. Big corporations find themselves having to apologize on a daily basis thanks to social media failings, so nobody is immune to this. What may seem like a solid marketing strategy may actually result in you having to close your doors. Take a look at this article to see just how serious that can be. The internet never forgets and the public are quick to condemn. Keep it classy, and think first, if it is questionable at all – DON’T USE IT!