Inspired by Kenneth Cole’s Twitter blunder last February, I took to the MaRS blog and detailed three high-profile social media missteps made by corporations over the years. Little did I know that the rest of 2011 would bring the mother lode of social media idiocy!

As the cold winter winds blow, what better way to spend the holidays than sipping hot chocolate and marvelling at the unbelievable social media mistakes made throughout the year. So, gather around my dear MaRS followers as I count down the top three social media blunders of 2011.

Number 3:  Imported from Detroit – the city that doesn’t know how to drive?

Chrysler had just launched its clever new campaign “Imported from Detroit,” which aimed to resurrect the city by celebrating Detroit history, craftsmanship and quality.

Apparently, one of the PR agents assigned to the campaign did not share this Detroit pride. Accidentally using the @ChryslerAutos handle, he insensitively tweeted, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f****** drive.” Ouch!

Number 2: @Qwikster

The year started off great for Netflix, with surging sales, happy customers and shares peaking at $299. However, it all changed real “qwik” when CEO Reed Hastings split the company’s DVD service to create a separate entity called Qwikster, a move that required customers to pay an additional $7.99 per month for DVD subscriptions.

Outraged customers took to Twitter to protest and criticize Qwikster, but little did they know that the @Qwikster Twitter handle already belonged to a man whose tweets were rife with sexual innuendo and talk of partying. Since Netflix had failed to secure the handle prior to launching its new service, its already angry customers were subjected to tweets such as “son get a life n stop running ur mouth be mature for once” and “Bored as s*** wanna blaze but at the same time I don’t ugh f*** it where’s the bowl at spark me up lls.” Yikes!

Number 1: Good shootin’, Tex

You’re probably wondering how anything could possibly top the Qwikster Twitter fiasco. Well, this next social media blunder is in a league of its own.

Bob Parsons, CEO of the web domain registry company GoDaddy, actually tweeted a video of himself shooting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe! “Just got back from hunting problem elephant in Zimbabwe. Here’s my vacation video. Enjoy.”

The video is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to fathom what exactly Parsons was thinking. After the elephant is killed, the video gets even more disturbing as hundreds of villagers (decked out in bright orange GoDaddy hats) ravage the carcass for meat. Not only did Parsons kill an endangered species, he also exploited the poverty-stricken Zimbabwe village. With 33,000 Twitter followers, Parsons’ tweet ignited a PR nightmare for GoDaddy.

Here is the link to the video in question. Remember it is graphic in nature, and viewer discretion is advised (I always wanted to say that).

Makes you wonder what 2012 could possibly bring!

Shenthuran Vijayananthan

Shenthuran was a Communications Associate at MaRS. See more…