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2016's Great Big Social Media Fails and Lessons Learned

by Melissa Drozdowski  |  
January 31, 2017
  |  4,616 views

Ah, 2016... It was one for the record books, no? From what may go down as the craziest election in US history to having to say goodbye to far too many of pop culture's most treasured icons (I miss you, Willy Wonka), 2016 left an indelible mark.

Elections and celebrity farewells weren't the only place that 2016 left its calling card; its footprints are stamped all over social media, my favorite playground. Social media as we know it has been around for nearly two decades now. So, we should all have a handle on how this whole social media thing works, and not make some of the same silly mistakes that we've seen in the past, right?

Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In his book Revival, Stephen King scored a bull's-eye when he wrote, "Fox Mulder [of the TV series The X-Files] was right about one thing: the truth is out there, and anyone in our current age, where almost everyone is living in a glass house, can find it with a computer and an Internet connection."

But even now, two decades down the road, some of us haven't gotten the memo that anything you do on social media is easily discovered, shared, and preserved for posterity.

And it's not just your average Joes clumsily hacking and slashing their way through the social jungle; plenty of people and organizations that really should've known better—like celebrities, brands, and even government agencies—managed to run afoul of social media's Internet vigilante mob. (And let's not even talk about Kanye West's particular brand of Twitter crazy.)


2016 provided fertile ground for social media goofs and gaffes by marketers who didn't put enough thought into what might happen after they clicked on the tweet, post, publish, or share buttons. By now, you want to dive right into the good stuff, so without further ado, I give you my list of 2016's biggest social media fails and the lessons we can learn from them.

No. 1 Social Media Fail

With great fanfare, Microsoft introduced "Tay," a spunky AI Twitter chatbot designed to engage with younger, tech-savvy social audiences. A tempting opportunity too good for Twitter's troll army to pass up! The trolls descended in force upon poor Tay.


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Melissa Drozdowski is social media director at strategic communications company Interprose, where she helps clients make better social communications choices daily.

Twitter: @Melissa_iPR

LinkedIn: Melissa Drozdowski

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