Here are just a few of the social media blunders the Internet has been buzzing about:

 1. JCPenney’s odd attempt at real-time marketing

Oreo stole the show at last year’s Super Bowl when they sent out a perfectly timed tweet regarding the game’s 30-minute blackout – “You can still dunk in the dark.” Since then, other major brands have tried to take a similar approach with socially relevant tweets.

JCPenney attempted to do the same during this year’s Super Bowl, but with a rather unique (and confusing) strategy.

While many questioned if the company’s social media rep was drunk tweeting, turns out they were only trying to promote their line of Olympic-themed mittens.

 The takeaway: JCPenney made a gutsy social media move that backfired horribly. If you want to break through the noise on social media, be clever – not confusing. Also, don’t text with mittens.

 2. Burger King and Jeep get hacked

It’s been almost a year since hackers got into the Twitter accounts of Burger King and Jeep to prank the companies and give their marketing and social media departments a severe bout of anxiety. Tweets included mentions of the brands being sold to competitors, racial slurs, and pictures of “employees” doing illegal drugs. Sounds like a PR nightmare right?

Image from HuffingtonPost.com

Image from Digitaltrends.com

The takeaway: Guard your social media account passwords. Strong, unique passwords that have a combination of numbers, capital letters, and symbols make it harder for hackers to take over your social presence. And no, !Password1 doesn’t count as a strong password.

In addition to complex passwords, there are other tips for protecting your identity online. Educating your social media and marketing departments on best practices for protecting your brand online is a must.

3. MSNBC’s politically incorrect tweet

Regardless of whether you’re using social media for professional or personal use, it is NEVER a good idea to target any group of people in a negative way with regard to sexual orientation, religion, race, or politics.

The social media manager for MSNBC’s Twitter account didn’t get the memo on that one when he/she posted the following tweet about an upcoming Super Bowl ad featuring an interracial family:

Image from of NYDailyNews.com

After a major blowback from the GOP, the social media handler was fired and the network’s president issued a mea culpa to the Republican Party.

The takeaway: Don’t bash a group of people on any social platform. Ever. It accomplishes nothing and could cost you your job. As the manager of your organization’s social presence, it’s your responsibility to guard the company’s online reputation as closely as you would your own. Stop and think before you post.

And if you ever find yourself wondering if a tweet or Facebook post could backfire on your brand, look at it this way – if it’s not something that you would tape to your office door or cubicle wall for the entire company to see, it’s a safe bet you shouldn’t put it online for the entire world to read.