Companies can operate successfully for years, going about their day-to-day business affairs and flying under the proverbial radar.

But that can all change in an instant if a company makes headlines due to an embarrassing social media blunder or falls victim to a cyber attack, leaving their customers’ financial and personal information susceptible to fraud.

From blunders and missteps to plain-old poor decision-making, here are three of the top epic business fails from 2017 and what we can learn from them.

1. Ronald McDonald Disses The Donald

President Donald Trump is well-known for his love of Twitter, so it’s fair to say any mention on social media doesn’t go unnoticed. In March, McDonald’s fired a tweet at the president, which stated: “You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have Barack Obama back, also you have tiny hands.”

As was quickly evident — beyond the poor grammar — Ronald McDonald didn’t tweet out this brash statement; instead, cyber sleuths (possibly the Hamburglar?) had hacked into the burger conglomerate’s Twitter account.

While Mayor McCheese quickly removed the tweet, the situation — and subsequent fallout — demonstrated how vulnerable any company can be on social media. Business owners should take note of this event and carry out steps to keep their social media pages secure.

In that vein, companies of various sizes may want to invest in an online backup service like Mozy, which offers worry-free cloud data protection that will safely store all proprietary information.

For example, services like MozyPro allow business owners to schedule backups to run as frequently as they wish, as well as the option to schedule backups throughout the day.

2. Adidas Puts its Foot in its Mouth

Yet another social media fail took place in April, when Adidas tweeted out: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” As Entrepreneur explains, this poorly-executed tweet showed poor decision-making and exploited the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which left three people dead and more than 250 others wounded. The company immediately removed the tweet and offered a sincere apology.

So, what can be learned from this social media faux pas? Accuracy, empathy and smart decision-making is the name of the game. Moreover, your social media team should double-check everything they tweet from the company account to ensure they’re not disseminating any controversial or questionable statements to the public.

3. Beepi Spends Money Faster Than it Can Make

As the old saying goes, money doesn’t buy happiness. In the case of startups like Beepi, money also doesn’t guarantee success.

As TechCrunch explains, the startup, which once served as a marketplace for people to buy and sell used cars, had raised an impressive $150 million in seed money and had been valued as much as $560 million before going bust.

However, despite this initial success, Beepi quickly closed its doors after the company was unable to pay back creditors due to outrageous spending on the part of its founders.

As was later revealed, Beepi’s founders earned huge salaries and spent money to the tune of $7 million per month on office furniture and other high-end items.

Rather than focusing on money and how quickly one can spend it, entrepreneurs might be better off adopting a “slow and steady wins the race” approach and strive to offer a great product or service.

What’s in Store for 2018? We’ll Have to Wait and See

While it’s difficult to watch as new or established companies foul up on social media and in their day-to-day business affairs, it’s also important business owners learn and grow from these mistakes.

Of course, these errors in judgment certainly haven’t curtailed sales at McDonald’s and Adidas. But you would think other companies would institute measures to prevent these mistakes from happening on their watch. Easier said than done.

So as we look ahead to 2018, it will, of course, be interesting to see which brands make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Guest Contributor
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