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September 11th is for People

September 11th is for People

…and not for businesses.

Last night I tweeted:

because I remember last year, and prior years when many companies, with no malicious intent, tried to insert themselves into a day of national remembrance.  It has become obvious that statements of sympathy and solidarity from an individual person can be wonderful while the identical statement, made from behind a company name or social media presence, is seen as insensitive or insincere.

On Facebook I followed up on that tweet with an addition saying “just don’t do it.”   Nobody I know would have gone beyond a simple statement of solidarity and respect and when I wrote it, I was not thinking about people actually using 9/11 to build a marketing plan.  I underestimated the stupidity of some people.

Today an Arlington, Virginia  yoga company decided that using the tragic loss of life that reverberated across the nation thirteen years ago was a good way to market their services in the form of a one day 20% off sale.  In case their customers needed more incentive to buy, they made it clear that  9+11 = 20 and that simple addition defined the sale.  (Just think of the savings they could have offered if the towers had fallen on New Years Eve.)

The sale page is currently up here but I expect it to come down soon, so here is a screenshot:

Bikram Yoga Arlingtons Patriot Day Sale

They promoted it with this tweet – now deleted:

Bikram Yoga Arlington's Tweet

The fact that people did not respond well to the sale is an understatement.  This small business serving a specific geographic area is now nationally known in a way that no business would ever want.

They are apologizing  on Facebook:

but if you click through to those comments you can see it is not going well.  People have become excellent spotters of faux apologies on social media.  Whoever is doing their posting and Tweeting should check out CASE.org’s How to Nail the Social Media Apology.  The apologies on Twitter came fast and furious at Bikram Arlington – @bikramarlington until the responses to the apologies appeared to overwhelm them.

@bikramarlington Apologies

Note that the oldest apology is where they went off track.  As CASE points out, if you are going to apologize, make sure you are apologizing for what YOU did and not how other people reacted to what you did.

This is not a new problem and the answer is not new either.  Bryan Joiner nailed it last year with:

The Washington Post wrote just wrote about this marketing mistake at Arlington yoga studio offers 9/11 discount, then a Ray Rice comparison

Note:  I’d like to thank Chelsea Corken for bringing this to my attention today.

Muddled Messages: Labor Day Tweets

Muddled Messages: Labor Day Tweets

The first Labor Day celebration in the United States was held in 1882. Its origins are with the the Central Labor Union’s efforts to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894 – after over half the states had adopted the holiday.

It was originally intended that the day would begin with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. Following the parade, festivals were to be held to amuse local workers and their families. In later years, prominent men and women held speeches on economic and labor issues.  The first Monday in September was selected for the holiday to add a holiday to the long gap between Independence Day on July 4th and Thanksgiving in late November.

Labor Day parade, marchers, New York 1909

Labor Day parade, marchers, New York 1909

Like on many American holidays, there are businesses and individuals who want to join in the celebration and recognition of the holiday, but they make the message so generic and inoffensive that there is nothing about the greeting or message that says anything about the holiday being referenced.  There is a common trend for social media and marketing people to just find an image that includes the American flag and add some text and post it to all their social media profiles.

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Copyright Crazies or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Copyright Crazies or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I intentionally did not call out either the artist or the sloppily sharing page by name because this situation is not really about them.  This just represents one skirmish in the constant ongoing struggle between artists of all types and those who think the Internet is giant unsupervised lost and found bin.  I dread the day when artists like this one, or photographers, or animators, feel compelled to hide their work behind pay-walls because a basic respect for the work of others is lacking in so many.

A very talented artist who shares her work in books she sells, as well as on her website and Facebook page, seems to have touched a nerve with an extremely polite and restrained suggestion to the operator of a Facebook page that shares, uncredited images from around the web on the general topic of history.

The artist noticed one of her pieces had been shared, uncredited, by the page operator and made this suggestion, verbatim, including the smiley at the end: “Would be great if you could credit the artist when using their work. :)

The page owner replied back with the oh so common response of: finders keepers and everyone does it… if an image is on the net it means anyone can use it and I’m sure lots of people are.”

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If you have to have tech problems…

If you have to have tech problems…

It helps to have pleasant company while things get straightened out.  I was recently affected by a bug in the URL shortening function built into Buffer. I was very impressed with their support team.

I reported the problem via this handy form that is only one click away from the main Dashboard:

Buffer Support Form

Buffer Support Form

The form even lets you convey your own sense of urgency with the problem and I also used it to upload a screenshot to help illustrate the malfunction.  Within minutes I had an email from Buffer that:

  1. Acknowledged the problem in an empathetic manner
  2. Offered suggestions to work around the problem temporarily
  3. OWNED the problem by confirming that it sounds like an issue at their end
  4. Made me feel informed by letting me know the problem was passed on to the appropriate team

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Explore the Interactive #YesAllWomen Tweet Map

Explore the Interactive #YesAllWomen Tweet Map

I started working with the #YesAllWomen tweet archive I built this week.  This is the largest archive I have dealt with so there have been some new challenges. There were over 107,000 tweets and retweets during the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, but this was about 5 times that size.

The geocoding for the map below happens in batches of 10,000 tweets, so it will be a while before it is completely finished.  In the meantime, you can explore this copy of the map while the encoding continues.

Notes:  While some people have granted Twitter permission to embed their exact location in the metadata of their tweets, I strip that data out of the archive before I publish anything or make the download available.  I know people had to opt-in to include that data, but I am not convinced that everyone who opts-in to that really understand what it means.  The locations used on the map here are general locations as people have specified on their profile and are not tied to any specific tweet.

This method is safer, in my opinion, but it definitely introduces errors into the map.  Many people use odd abbreviations or whimsical phrases for their locations.  The encoding algorithms try their best, but they are not perfect.  For example, someone from Southeast Missouri used SEMO as their location and the encoding resulted in their tweet appearing to come from the town of Semo in Fiji.  Another person used “Under the moon” as their location and the encoder believes that to be somewhere in western Russia.

So with that in mind… enjoy the map.