#Whoops! 3 Twitter Campaigns that Backfired



Twitter Campaign Fails

Twitter is an amazingly powerful tool. When used well, it’s an incredible platform from which a brand, organization or single person can share information with hundreds of thousands or even millions of individuals across the planet.

But just like any powerful tool, it can easily get out of control.

Twitter is a platform for the people. No one can truly dictate what happens because everyone has a voice. Here at Social Outlier, our focus is to craft a brand that connects with its audience. We work hard to make sure that all Twitter efforts are always in alignment with the audience’s collective consciousness.

Why is that so important?

Well, here are three examples of Twitter campaigns that didn’t understand the sentiment of the masses – and paid the price.



Twitter Campaign Case Study: #AskSeaWorld

20121016-HiRes-copy-16-1SeaWorld has attracted a lot of attention in the last several years for holding large ocean mammals in captivity, training them to do tricks, and monetizing their performance.

Documentary films like Blackfish and the Academy Award-Winning The Cove stirred up a storm of backlash against practices that many animal activists (including PETA) call inhumane.

In response, SeaWorld launched into ad campaigns to salvage their damaged reputation. In March 2015, they launched a Twitter campaign called #AskSeaWorld where they encouraged Twitter users to ask them questions.

The hope was to get questions like, “How many fish does a Killer Whale eat?”

Instead, they opened themselves up to a barrage of tweets from animal activists, asking them questions like, “What does it feel like to have no soul?”


Twitter Campaign Case Study: #SummerinSyria

On a similar (but much sadder) note, during the summer of 2015 Syria’s state news agency SANA launched a Twitter campaign called #SummerinSyria. The hope, we can only assume, was an attempt to show the world that Syria has some wonderful qualities.

SANA probably imagined that Syrian visitors and natives would take the opportunity to share happy images of families picnicking in the park.

Instead, people in Syria used the hashtag ironically to post photos of war, destruction, illness and devastation, ultimately undermining the intention of the campaign and enlightening the world to just how dangerous the situation in Syria has become.


Twitter Campaign Case Study: @HillaryClinton’s Student Debt Campaign

HiRes-72-1Most recently, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posted an ill-advised tweet writing: “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” [LINK],


The team’s intention was likely to connect with Millenials and younger people who are dealing with crippling student loan debt.

Twitter responses ranged from the sarcastic to the scathing, burning Clinton for attempting to lighten an issue that has kept many Millenials buried under tremendous financial burden for years.

(On another presidential race note, Donald Trump’s #AskTrump campaign was also a massive PR disaster). [LINK] 



What do these three twitter campaigns have in common?

All three blatantly ignored the public’s mood regarding serious topics and attempted to gloss over harsh realities.

They paid the price, Clinton’s team even admitting that they made a mistake. The lesson? Before opening yourself up publicly to a Q+A session or inviting the masses to participate in a campaign, it’s critical to do your research to get a sense of how the world will respond.

There’s no shortage of trolls on Twitter, and the world never hesitates to point out inauthenticity.iStock_000064373133_Large-copy




Fields marked with an * are required