Is this the contender for worst social media offense of 2014?

MLK bad marketing error

For those who live outside the United States, Martin Luther King (MLK) Day marks the birthday of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. This federal holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year.

Minnesota’s Global Village Duluth sells traditional and modern ethnic clothing and accessories, jewelry, incense, tapestries, lamps, and more — all handcrafted from local artists. The slogan of the store? “Purveyors of good vibrations from around the world since 1978!”

On January 17, those good vibrations were put to the test when the owner of the Facebook Page posted the promotional message above. As of today, the update has landed a record of 246 comments (most of them negative). For a Page with only 299 Likes, it’s quite the engagement, eh?

The problem could have been quickly solved if the company had addressed the complaints. But nothing happened until today.

Of course, an apology is a step in the right direction. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but this message feels a little shallow. What strikes me the most is this: “So offense & admiration come down, yet again, to the eye of the beholder. I certainly can’t change how you behold me. But how you behold me can’t change what I meant. Period.”

Brands need to take a serious look at the way they conduct business online and offline. They cannot just do as they please and expect audiences to read between the lines of their offensive words.

A business owner who cannot completely own up to their mistakes should NOT apologize. In fact, they should not be in business at all.

Words impact us.

And not everything has a dollar sign attached to it.

Comments

  1. says

    Well, I think Social Media are kind strange and a little more analysis must be done.
    One question: this post was “offensive” (I don’t perceive that offensive, but I’m european) but it’s also the highest social post they have: 218 sharings, 257 comments on the post, and 22 likes (as far now).
    And me visiting the page, otherwise who the hell would ever checked that FB page. :)
    And you commenting it, so giving visibility and celebrity.
    So, maybe a lot of people now knows that there is this shop.
    In some time most of the people will forget about the reason the “shop is known” but will remember the brand.

    But at the end of all: how this interaction is affecting sales?
    Cause that’s really important. Are those 218+257 interactions regular fans of the page, or just people wandering around? And giving celebrity to something that was little and directed to those now 335 fans?
    Hey, 299 to 335 means +12% audience! That’s a great result!

    • says

      Hello Fernando,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The fact that you are European has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I’m European as well and I find it offensive.

      It was a very misguided attempt at hijacking a trend to make money, and as such, it makes a great case study for businesses interested in using social media that way. So, it’s not about giving that page publicity but rather educating others.

      You mention the shares. How do you know what people said when they shared the post? Is it all positive? And who shared?

      People do not forget, they have a good memory when something negative happens to them.

      Not every kind of publicity is good publicity. Period.

      Enjoy your day! :-)

      • says

        Right now 355 likes…
        So 299 at the begining, and now 355 so it’s a burst on the page of 18,5% more…
        Or 9% more, considering my first Reply…

        I would love to see the analytics of their site! :)
        And how this interactions correlate with the sales.

        And in 1 month, when the post will be history, someone visiting the page will see a lot of fans!

        Emotional marketing!
        Memory it’s an overevaluated human ability. First impression is strong, and usually, interactions that are less of 30 seconds (like almost average surfing) will see a page with 355 or more likes.
        If I’m a new user, I will just see this, and will not go back in timelime to see what happend.

        Also this is social media marketing and emotional reaction of peolple that generates interactions.

          • says

            But facebook allows only “likes” and not dislikes.
            FB is made by an american, and somehow builds a “positive thinking” philosophy, that doesn’t allow criticism or punishment. The only way I can express a negative is to take out my “like” but nobody will know it, and whatever new user will see only the number of likes the pages has.
            385 right now… +28,75% in 2 days… still thinking that not all publicity is good publicity? Uhm…
            Have you checked their “stats”?
            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Village-Duluth/162887113803624?id=162887113803624&sk=likes
            Surprise yourself….

          • says

            Fernando, you and I see things differently, so let’s agree to disagree. ;-)

            You can always express your criticism by leaving negative reviews, talking about it on blogs, spreading the word on social networks, etc. Look at what happened with other companies, and you will see. Social media allows people to voice their opinions, and it’s a good thing.

          • says

            Yes, but facebook is not tripadvisor or booking.
            What you says it’s correct, but works for other SN.

            It’s different from something like tripadvisor were I do have an average over a 5 points scale, and I have the number of people who loved it or hated it. I have a global rating.

            Facebook doesn’t work that way, because I can do what I want with my facebook page.
            I can always delete bad comments, and the only quick data I have it’s how many likes I do have.
            Those 389 likes (+4 from previous message) will be there. :)

            Likes keep growing… and that’s a fact, not an opinion… :)

  2. says

    Hi Cendrine,

    Anytime there is anything the least bit controversial about something a business has said or done, it usually turns out to be a good thing for them, no matter what the cost to the human element.

    I find instances like this disgusting, but, it happens quite often, unfortunately!

    Great article and thanks for bringing it to light.

    Geri

    • says

      Hello Geri,

      I don’t think I quite agree with “usually”, unless the goal is to be remembered as a douche. In which case, then yes.

      That’s why I bring that kind of things to light. It’s too important not to be shared.

      Thank you for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your week!

I love comments! Leave one below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *