Let’s Try Not to Use Civil Rights Heroes as Marketing Pawns, Okay?

Look, we understand. Constantly creating content and coming up with new ideas can be hard. We’re all guilty of turning to holidays and current events for inspiration – especially for social media posts.

But some events don’t necessarily need to be covered by the social bandwagon. And if they are, they need to be covered tastefully.

Earlier this week, as the rest of the nation observed on the 50 year anniversary since the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” some social media managers were making bad decisions.

While Americans reflected on the strides we’ve made against racism – and noted that there is still work to be done – the Golf Channel and Klout were pressing the Tweet button, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Golf Channel led the charge with this gem (via foxsports.com)

Tweet1Which was quickly followed up with a backpedal:

Not to be outdone, Klout joined the festivities with this bombshell (via The Wrap)

tweetbad2And the fat lady sang with their retraction:

All of these tweets beg the question: which is worse? Creating your own culturally insensitive Tweet or retweeting a mention from someone who wanted a little Twitter-love?

The Golf Channel made a conscience decision that they wanted to tweet something out in honor of the March on Washington. In theory, there is nothing wrong with that. People tweet about 9/11 and the anniversary of Pearl Harbor to pay homage to those who lost their lives.

This one, however, got out of hand. Either one person tweeted it without getting a second opinion, or multiple people approved it and honestly thought it was a good idea.

shutterstock_140069221Frankly, inserting a joke here about golf’s whitewashed stereotype – the official sport of upper-class country club folk – is just too cliché even for me. So I will move on to Klout.

Every company has guidelines for responding to social media comments and some companies must respond to everything no matter what. If such is the case for Klout, they could have handled this with a semi-private reply. But they didn’t. They stuck the mention right in the middle of the tweet for all to see.

The intention of this tweet was to get a shout out from Klout. It’s a little fanmail in hopes of a retweet. Klout didn’t set out to Tweet about Martin Luther King Jr., but whoever was managing this account decided that this particular tweet was funny enough, topical enough, or witty enough to share with Klout’s 623,000 followers.

Bad idea.

The sad part (well, one of the sad parts) is that the Golf Channel’s Klout score probably went up after the fiasco. Controversial tweets like these cause a spike in social traffic as reporters and Internet users alike track down the horrible comments. Plus, all of the mentions in outrage increase engagement and immediately make the post popular.

I don’t follow the Golf Channel and I don’t see myself following them in the near future, but I definitely went to their account to see the offensive tweets and feel appropriately outraged. It’s twisted, but we love watching big names fail.

What’s the lesson we can learn from Klout and the Golf Channel? You brand doesn’t have to capitalize on every major news story. If you’re on the fence about it, you should probably keep the post to yourself.

About the author

Amanda Dodge