No matter how many times you’ve used it, social media can be overwhelming, especially when big brands with big teams of experts are still making social media disasters. To help you avoid making common mild mistakes like posting the wrong things at the wrong times and massive mistakes like approaching sensitive subjects offensively, we’ve compiled a list of seven fails the average small business should NEVER do on social media. Take it from these guys. One slip-up can ruin a brand’s reputation.

Whopper Whoops

The "Whopper" Sacrfice Fail | Social Media DisastersIn 2009, Burger King ran a Facebook contest called the “Whopper Sacrifice.” If a user de-friended 10 of their Facebook friends (seriously), they would get a coupon for a free Whopper. This caused a lot of confusion because Facebook is about connecting with your friends.

Lesson Learned: When you launch a campaign on social media, make sure it’s social. De-friending your Facebook friends is quite the opposite.

McDonalds McStake

Back in 2012, McDonalds made a catastrophic (paid) campaign using the hashtag #McDStories encouraging fans to share heartwarming stories about experiences at the restaurant. Instead of receiving happy anecdotes, their feed was filled with horror stories.

Lesson Learned: Even when you boost a post or pay for a campaign, beware of the snark remarks. Things don’t always go as planned, so remember to include contingency plans that include the ability to change midstream. Otherwise a small blip could turn into something much larger.

Offensive Onion

And the 2013 Oscar for most offensive tweet goes to The Onion: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c–t, right?” Yikes! The normally satirical website often blurs the line between being edgy and offensive, but this was a step too far. Clearly Twitter lit up with outraged Tweets.

Lesson Learned: Although the CEO of the Onion issued a heartfelt apology to Quvenzhané and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts for the offensive tweet, sensitive subject matter and cruel name calling can push the boundaries. If it’s questionable, it’s best to leave it out of the queue.

DiGiorno’s Disaster

In the aftermath of the disturbing video footage of Ray Rice punching his wife in 2014, DiGiorno tried to capitalize on the trend by tweeting “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” So not cool, DiGiorno. In 24 hours, over 46,000 Tweets flooded in from women explaining what made them stay in abusive relationships.

Lesson Learned: Trending hashtags are a no-brainer for businesses seeking to join the popular discussions on social media. But making light of violence is never acceptable. DiGiorno apologized and stated they weren’t aware of the significance of the hashtag. Well, jumping onto a trending hashtag without understanding the context is also unacceptable.

Ignorant IHOP

IHOP’s “flat but has a GREAT personality” tweet is one of the most cited social media mistakes from 2015. Obviously the reference was supposedly meant to refer to pancakes, but was also noted by critics as a reference to flat-chested women. What were they thinking?

Lesson Learned: Own up to your mistake. IHOP deleted the tweet and apologized for their offensive incident.

BBC Blunder

In 2015, a BBC journalist falsely tweeted that Queen Elizabeth “has died.” Other news organizations retweeted the news and it spread across social and traditional media like wildfire. The journalist admitted that the mistake was a result of a “silly prank.”

Lesson Learned: We all love seeing what brands will pull off the best pranks (especially on April Fool’s Day), but how far is too far? Avoid using your personal accounts to “report the news” and rethink the repercussions of your stunt before you hit post. Social media is a conversational platform, but you don’t want to be caught lying. If you’re in doubt, don’t make the assumption — check and double check your facts.

Total Beauty, Total Gaffe

Total Beauty posted a photo of Whoopi Goldberg arriving at 2016 Academy Awards red carpet and they captioned it: “We had no idea @Oprah was tatted, and we love it”. Oprah hit back at the beauty magazine saying ‘we don’t all look alike Jeeeze’ and the hashtag #ThatsNotOprah started trending as people responded with humor, anger and disbelief.

Lesson Learned: Again, own up to your mistakes and apologize. Total Beauty deleted the tweet and apologized, but they’re not going to live this one down for a while. Oh, and remember to fact-check before you post a potentially embarrassing mix up like that.

Preventing Social Media Disasters

You won’t be able to prevent every single mistake, but if you check (and double check) your facts, spelling and instincts, you can mitigate the frequency and severity of your social media disasters.