December 18, 2013 5:17 pm

Important lessons social media taught us in 2013

FRED TANNEAU/AFP, Getty Images

TORONTO – Social media can be an excellent tool for business and individuals – when it’s used properly.

From brand names trying to make light of tragic news events to sell products, to disgruntled employees live tweeting their firings from the company account, here are just some examples of the important lessons social media taught us in 2013.

Don’t try to crowdsource a drug dealer on Twitter (especially while at work)

In August, a Toronto-area Twitter user tweeted a public request for a drug dealer to deliver some marijuana to the Mr. Lube location he was working at. But an unlikely source responded to his pot plea – the local police, who re-tweeted his request and asked if they could tag along.


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York Regional Police then tweeted the original pot-plea message to businessman Jim Treliving, who owns the collective investment portfolio T&M group of businesses – including Mr. Lube.

The pot plea tweeter was fired from his job the next day.

It is unclear whether he received his “goods.”

Don’t make light of serious news events

In September the Twitter account for fashion designer Kenneth Cole garnered criticism for using the saying “boots on the ground” to talk about footwear. A number of angry Twitter users responded to the tweet, claiming the saying was in reference to the military action in Syria and accusing the brand of mocking the war to sell products.

Similarly, London’s Luton Airport found itself in hot water in March after posting a photo of a Chicago-bound flight that slid off the runway, killing a 6-year-old, in 2005 to its Facebook page saying, “This is what we prevent you from when it snows… Weeeee.”

The image was removed after about an hour of it being on Facebook and a spokesperson later apologized attributing the post to a new staff member who made an “honest by misguided mistake.”

Don’t fire the person in charge of your social media accounts

After being laid off from a position at U.K. music store HMV in January, a disgruntled employee hijacked the company’s Twitter account and started live tweeting as other employees got the boot.

The tweets, which have since been deleted from the account, included the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring and described the event as a “mass execution of loyal employees who love the brand,” according to screenshots taken by The Huffington Post.

Earlier this week another ticked-off employee took control of the Twitter account of the pub he was fired from to tweet his disappointment in the establishment.

28-year-old Jim Knight – whose Twitter bio now includes “responsible for the @ploughpub Twitter storm” – was fired from his job as a chef at a pub called The Plough in Oxfordshire, U.K., after allegedly asking for Christmas Day off. He then took to the company Twitter feed to announce he had been fired, a week before Christmas, with a seven month old baby at home.

The Plough’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

Be cautious when choosing a screen name

Brooklyn, N.Y. resident Glenn Rogers learned the hard way that having the same last name as a telecom giant in Canada can have consequences after a Canada-wide Rogers Wireless outage left him bombarded with angry tweets from Canadians without cell service.

Rogers said he was inundated with hundreds of tweet chalked full of expletives during the five-hour outage in October – but said he refuses to change his Twitter handle.

Across the pond, U.K. resident John Lewis who has the twitter handle @johnlewis continues to be inundated with tweets destined for retailer U.K. John Lewis.

The Twitter user has gained somewhat of a fan following for his polite replies to almost every person who tweets him by accident. In November the retailer tweeted him offering him a gift for his efforts in directing people to their account @johnlewisretail.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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