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It’s been a year for social media fails, most of which could have been avoided. Here’s what your business can learn from the mistakes of these local brands.

Fail 1: Mugg & Bean


What happened? On the night that the local version of The Great British Bake-Off  was due to be screened, bakers extraordinaire Mugg & Bean tweeted: 'Did you enjoy the first episode of the #SABakeOff?' One problem: at the last minute, the episode didn’t air due to a technical glitch. Many baking puns ensued.

The lesson: Scheduling your social posts to be published at a later date is a real time-saver, but it comes at a risk.

View the apology:

Fail 2: Pick n Pay

What happened? Columnist Louise Marsland tweeted a link to a mommy blogger’s swear word-littered post about Stikeez. Pick n Pay asked Louise to delete her tweet. In other words, they tried to censor a journalist. And then to top it off, the unflattering Stikeez post went viral.

The lesson: 1. Know your audience. Some of the customers you interact with online have more influence than others, and you need to know who they are. 2. The more you try to cover something up, the more attention it’ll attract. (This is why Woolworths is wisely ignoring the parody account @WoolworstSA.)

View the Tweet:

Fail 3: Bic SA

What happened? Who can forget the sexist Women’s Day post from Bic South Africa? It went viral on a global scale, with sites like The Guardian and AdWeek picking up the story. 

Bic defended the post on its Facebook page, saying the quote came from a 'women in business' blog and was meant to be empowering. Public backlash grew after that, and Bic eventually deleted that apology and released a second, more sincere one.

The lesson: 1. You don’t need to align your brand to with every marked occasion – what do pens have to do with Women’s Day? 2. Build a review process into your social media strategy to prevent these kinds of posts going live. 3. When you make a mistake, apologise immediately and with sincerity. Excuses only serve to further enflame the situation.

View the Facebook post:

Fail 4: Steers

What happened? Lion’s Head in Cape Town was on fire in December, and the local firefighters asked Steers if the burger chain could help out with a few meals for the volunteers. 

Steers posted a rather non-committal response, missed out on a great brand-building opportunity and then the #SteersGate hashtag trended.

The lesson: Empower your social media team to take advantage of spur-of-the-moment opportunities without having to go through a lengthy approval process. Give them a budget if necessary.


Social media is a fantastic tool to grow your brand, find new customers and increase sales. Use these lessons to shape your business’s social media strategy, and get the most out of your efforts.

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