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Lessons learned from big social media disasters

Jeffrey Coolidge | Getty Images

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Social media is an essential part of business today, but it's one that should come with a warning label.

Interacting with customers and fans of your company can be a tremendous marketing tool. It can also be a recipe for disaster. One slipup—or, in countless cases, a social media manager accidentally tweeting to the company account instead of their own—can make companies accidental laughingstocks (like the time in 2011 when the American Red Cross Twitter feed announced "When we drink, we do it right #gettngslizzard").

Sometimes the trouble a company gets into is a lot more serious—and potentially harmful to corporate reputations.

Here are high-profile examples of social media campaigns that went awry and, of course, viral.

Jeffrey Coolidge | Getty Images