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Top 5 Australian Social Media Fails of 2015…So Far7 min read

7 min read

australian social media fails croud australia

These days, it seems like every business is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. What’s more is that even if they aren’t, it’s what customers have come to expect. A company’s social media platform is where consumers go to connect with the brands we love, share our experiences, and complain about bad service.

Used the right way, social media can be a powerful tool to build brand loyalty, engage with customers, and create an almost cult-like following (I’m looking at you, Gelato Messina). However, what happens when it all goes wrong? Take a look at Australia’s top five social media fails in 2015 so far.


When you attend a hen’s party, you usually expect all manner of hilarious objects shaped after a certain body part, cowboy hats, and multiple glasses of champagne. What you don’t expect is to be verbally abused.

Get Bucked Entertainment provides mechanical bull hire. In the case of this particular hen’s party, it was a mechanical bucking…well, you know. Things didn’t get off to a great start and the bride-to-be’s sister, Alex, decided to go on the company’s Facebook page to lodge a complaint.

get bucked social media fail croud australia

What happened next is the stuff of legends. Get Bucked Entertainment came out with all guns blazing to deliver a vitriolic rant.

social media fail get bucked croud australia

What they should have done

Although the customer may not always be right, nothing excuses this sort of language. This is even more pertinent when you consider the reach that social media has these days.

Get Bucked Entertainment has since deleted their Facebook page (although they live on in this Gumtree listing), but it’s easy to see how they should have handled the matter. A polite response would have cost the owner nothing and could have turned an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.

And if you can’t bring yourself to say anything civil? Just remember mum’s advice: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

2. #nameahorserace

While the Melbourne Cup may be the event that stops the nation, horse racing is still a highly controversial activity. This is something that William Hill (owner of Tom Waterhouse and SportingBet) discovered after they asked Twitter users to come up with a clever and creative name for the Easter Monday race.

social media fail William Hill Croud Australia

Here were some of the suggestions they received:

social media fails william hill croud australia

You get the idea.

It’s not the first time a company has had their Twitter campaign hijacked. The same thing happened to Qantas in 2011 when they tried to trend #QantasLuxury

social media fail qantas croud australia…and McDonalds in 2012 with the #McDStories hashtag…

mcdonalds social media fail croud australia

…and to the New York police department just last year, which saw the #myNYPD hashtag flooded with stories of police brutality, as well as accusations of racism.

nypd social media fail croud australia

What they should have done 

These campaigns show the real danger of brands wilfully ignoring customers’ perceptions. The simple fact is that companies in a controversial line of work, or one that may easily draw criticism, must be more vigilant than most when acting on social media.

That said, if your company is still intent on trialling these sorts of campaigns, it is crucial to have a 24/7 management policy, as well as a contingency plan in place. How you will react, whether or not you will respond, and the tone you will use should all be discussed beforehand.


Australia has a proud tradition of mateship and loyalty, and perhaps nothing embodies this better than the spirit of Anzac Day. However, things went horribly wrong for supermarket giant Woolworths when they tried to cash in on this important day.

woolworths social media fail croud australia

The company decided to take photos of former soldiers and splash Woolworths’ marketing all over them – a move that was not appreciated by customers. Although the company might have had good intentions, they were heavily criticised for taking advantage of the Anzac soldiers.

woolworths social media fail croud australia

Matters went even further when online users made their own memes, mocking the supermarket chain.


woolworths social media fail croud australia

woolworths social media fail croud australia

What they should have done

According to Woolworths, they originally created the meme generator “to give our staff and customers a place to put their stories to mark the Centenary of ANZAC… Like many heritage Australian companies, we were marking our respect for ANZAC and our veterans.”

That’s all very well and good, but Woolworths could have saved themselves a lot of backlash by not emblazoning “Fresh in our Memories” (a phrase that mirrors Woolworths’ own “Fresh Food People”) over the pictures, and having a smaller, more discreet version of their logo included.

4. #putoutyourdress

Mortein is perhaps best known for its iconic mascot “Louie the Fly”. However, the company received all the wrong sorts of publicity after their #putoutyourdress campaign. Inspired by the #putoutyourbat movement following the death of famous cricketer, Phil Hughes, the #putoutyourdress campaign gained ground in response to the murder of school teacher Stephanie Scott.

However, while hundreds of people on social media posted pictures of their wedding dresses hanging outside their homes to honour Scott, Mortein did this:

social media fail croud australia

It wasn’t the company’s best move and was described by Tim Burrowes, founder of Mumbrella, as “a hamfistedly cynical ploy by a British-based multinational corporation to hijack the social media conversation.” Ouch.

What they should have done

Although the Facebook page has since been removed(so long, Louie), Mortein made the same mistake as Woolworths. It’s understandable why they acted the way they did. Commenting on current events gives brands the avenue to engage with their audiences. However, the tables can quickly turn on a business when there is even the slightest inkling that they are using it as a marketing opportunity.

A simple, honest post would have sufficed, much like this tasteful post from the Royal Australian Navy.

social media fail australian navy croud australia

If you’re not sure whether or not your post might be inflammatory, it’s wise to just stay silent.


Lentil as Anything is a pretty cool place to eat. Aside from taking their name from a super groovy 70s band (anyone else remember “The Nips Are Getting Bigger”?), this vegan restaurant operates on a very Bohemian “pay as you feel policy”. However, one small business owner obviously wasn’t a fan.


social media fail raw store croud australia

Owner of The Raw Store, Rebecca Freer, suddenly found herself inundated with a barrage of comments. Many were violent and aggressive, and some even took the argument offline, spray painting the store’s windows.

What they should have done

Freer attempted to post an apology, but by then it was too late and The Raw Store’s Facebook page was shut down (although they came back online a month later).

It’s important to recognise that social media amplifies everything, which can be both good and bad. Unfortunately for Freer, although she did attempt a genuine apology, the negative amplification effect had already taken hold.

What companies (and especially small business owners) need to remember is that there should be a separation between your personal and public identity. When you post using your company’s social media account, you are not speaking as yourself. You are speaking as your brand.


Don’t let these examples of social media management gone wrong turn you away from interacting with your consumers online. If properly managed, your social media account could become your most effective form of advertising. Just remember these five simple things:

  1. Be honest
  2. Be human
  3. Be open
  4. Don’t be afraid to apologise
  5. Respond to any issues and concerns straight away (ideally, wait no more than 24 hours – the sooner the better)

On that note, I’ll leave you with this example of social media done right. When Matthew Wilson posted a picture of a capsicum containing a caterpillar to Coles’ Facebook Page a few weeks ago, the company gave a delightfully humorous and human response.

social media coles croud australia

And that, folks, is how you win at social media.

Don’t risk your reputation on social media. For expertly crafted content, social media and more – contact the team at Croud Australia.