Social-media disasters are surprisingly easy to come by. Organizations often misunderstand what people want and are frequently tone deaf to the potential impact of their messages.

We've seen tons of examples where companies have put their foot in it right up to the knee. The latest comes from the world of politics. The Democratic National Committee decided to reach out to its affiliated voters on Saturday, January 28--as the implications of Trump's ban on refugees from a number of Muslim-majority countries, including the prohibition of some green card holders from returning to the U.S. after traveling, became clear.

The DNC isn't a company, but it's an organization that can provide a great object lesson. At a time of massive protests and legal actions, all within the first week of the Trump presidency, the DNC wrote this: "We want to know what YOU want the future of our party to look like and what you want from our next Chair. Tell us:"

Lawyers have a saying: Never ask a question in a courtroom for which you don't already have the answer. Surprises can be nasty. So can answers to a tweet. The ones the DNC received were so bad, the paint must be peeling off the organization's walls. Here are some examples--and although the answers are political in nature, because this is a forum about business, the point is to show just how deep you can sink in little time.

These were some of the milder comments.

Any organization--including companies--has duties toward its audience, whether customers or constituents. You have to understand them and what they expect from you. If you don't, you can't stay in business. Eventually, no one will deal with you. And if you want to use social media intelligently and usefully, you never ask something that suggests you might be out of touch. You won't like the cross examination that comes up.

Published on: Jan 29, 2017