How NOT To Do Social Media


Sometimes you see something that reminds you to start a folder called “stupid corporate tricks.”


(Photo credit: Link576)

What I’m writing about today would be top of that heap.  In fact, it sets a new kind of standard for stupid behavior but let’s see what you think.

Gizmodo published a piece yesterday about Chick-Fil-A and their social efforts.  As you might know, that company is engaged in a controversy with the gay community over same-sex marriage.  Now since we don’t do politics here, let’s put aside the cause of the controversy and just acknowledge that there is one.  This issue caused another company – The Jim Henson Company – to announce that it would no longer allow Chick-Fil-A to distribute miniature muppets in its children’s meals.  Again, let’s not argue right,wrong, good, or bad – those are the facts.  As a preemptive move, Chick-Fil-A announced it was ceasing to distribute the toys because of a safety issue – kids were getting their fingers stuck in the puppets.  With me so far?

Now comes the business part.  On Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page, there were quite a few comments.  One commenter accused the company of making up a lie about the cause and asked them to admit they were dumped because they were “bigots.”  I suppose we could have a long chat here about how to handle negative comments in social media and that would be a valuable discussion.  However, I bet we would all agree that one way we would never endorse is to have a PR staffer create a fake Facebook account in the personality of a teenaged girl and respond with corporate talking points through that mechanism.  Want to guess what Chick-Fil-A did?

The company denied having done it.  However, the account was created hours before it began posting and the profile picture is from a stock photo house – a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that this is not a real person.  Regardless, it’s a lesson on how NOT to handle a problem is social media.  Yes, we need to respond quickly but not by hiding or lying about who is talking.  Transparency is one imperative; knowing that if you’re using social you no longer control the conversation is another.

I don’t suppose we’ll know for sure if this was a corporate flack or not.  We do know for sure that in addition to the original controversy there now is another.  Thoughts?


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Filed under Helpful Hints

2 responses to “How NOT To Do Social Media

  1. CFA’s decision to have an automated bot respond on a platform meant for user engagement was a horrible move for their PR. Now, not only will they be seen as liars, but lazy ones at that- who can’t even designate real staff members to address their social media issues. It’s a shame, because for a place with such great customer service this seems poorly out of character!

  2. Weak, weak, weak effort by CFA. You’d think companies would be smarter. If your “social media expert” suggests this tactic, he/she is the furthest thing from an expert. These will get sniffed out 100% of the time.

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