“We be closed.”
I’ll remember it as long as I live. It’s burned into my brain like a cross. I was in college back in the early 90s, and I passed by a bank in a neighboring town. I’d never been more stunned or stumped… or embarrassed to be a member of the human race.
That’s what the bank’s sign read… on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
You’re smart. I don’t need to explain its crude ignorance—even irony—to you… and yet, “smart” people—bankers—acted so stupidly.
Last month, a mattress company in Texas closed indefinitely after receiving death threats prompted by a commercial video released on their Facebook page promoting a “twin towers” sale for 9/11. At the same time, a Walmart in Florida did a Coca-Cola display “in honor of” the twin towers.
You’re smart, right? I don’t need to explain their crude ignorance to you, right?
In our race to get noticed, sometimes even the smartest among us forget to stop and think. Social media is a dangerous tool in the hands of people who forget to stop and think.
It’s also a sharp pitchfork used against those people, and it’s wielded at lightning speed.
You want to get attention using social media? Here are two simple ways:
- Disappoint a customer.
- Do something thoughtlessly stupid.
While you may see clearly the stupidity in knocking down two stacks of mattresses or misappropriating an absurd cultural stereotype upon one of America’s true apostles of peace, you might not see the slope.
Don’t slip down the slope.
Yes, October is breast cancer awareness month. Yes, pink is everywhere and most everyone has the best of intentions. Yes, thousands of good companies are raising millions of dollars for breast cancer research and local support and treatment.
And yes, social media—and all our ice buckets—helped fuel a breakthrough in ALS research.
Social media is a powerful tool… but requesting people like and share your post because you support breast cancer awareness or the victims of 9/11 doesn’t honor or benefit them. Does it? I mean, you’re smart, tell me how it benefits them? I see how it benefits you… but not them…
The beauty and wonder of the ice bucket challenge campaign—and its reason for spreading like wildfire—was its selfless innocence. There was a joy in sharing and nominating and watching your friends get ice-bucketed. Even companies were getting in on the act and making a difference, but:
We didn’t exploit the ice baths for our own gain… not of money… not of time… not of attention. We didn’t upload our ice bucket videos then say “Share our version and help us get our name out there ‘in honor of’ the victims of ALS.”
Asking someone to like or share your post is not too far down the slope from asking them to buy something “in honor of” the victims of ________.
Time and attention are currencies the same as money.
Instead of asking for dollars, you’re asking for their attention and the attention of their friends. Look at me! Look at me! Share my goodness!
To quote Dr. King, “What are you doing for others?”
When it comes to sadness and tragedy, don’t be a look-at-me marketer.
Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that.
Don’t. Ever. Do. That.
Not for money. Not for time. Not for attention.
Don’t. Ever. Do. That.
You’re smart, right? I don’t need to explain this crude ignorance to you, right?
I didn’t think so.