BUSINESSES NEED TO STAND UP TO SOCIAL MEDIA LYNCHINGS

JohnLandsberg
August 7th, 2015

The knee-jerk reactions by businesses to real or perceived issue on social media is getting out of control.

A handful of people on social media blamed the Confederate Flag for killings in Charleston. Immediately all businesses stopped selling the flags.

Not a single one said they were  going to take the bold step to actually stop selling guns.  The flag issue was quick way to calm the social media mob.

The joke today is that for every action there will be a social media overreaction.

But, have businesses gone too far in trying to appease the anonymous social media stalkers who jump on every issue from the safety of their computers?

A classic example of a social media overreaction was Whole Foods, which recently pulled a product from its shelves because ONE on-line magazine writer thought the offering was ridiculous.  Her personal view caused a mini-social media firestorm.

The product she found so offensive was asparagus water that featured stalks of asparagus in a jar for $5.99. The product happened to be offered in ONE Whole Foods store in the country in Brentwood, CA, but when Marielle Wakim, an associate editor at Los Angeles magazine spotted the water sitting on shelves in a California Whole Foods supermarket, she was offended.

“Somewhere in L.A., Whole Foods executives are laughing at all of us,” Wakim posted on Instagram along with a photo of the product.

According to a story then picked up by CBS News Wakim noted, “Tap water, after all, is free, and an entire bundle of asparagus from Whole Foods costs around $5.  In fact, I was half-sure it was a joke.”

Asparagus Water

That’s all it took for the on-line vigilantes to pipe in on their disdain for the product.  One news story even referred to it as “Asparagus(gate).”

Shortly after the social media uproar a defensive Whole Foods responded by taking the product off the shelves, saying the product was made incorrectly.

“It was meant to be water with the essence of vegetables and/or mushrooms (similar to bone broth), which is typically made over a long period of time soaking in water,” the company’s spokeswoman noted. “It was made incorrectly and has since been removed.”

The overreaction by Whole Foods was stunning.  A single customer had a product removed because she thought it was dumb!!  It wasn’t unsafe or harmful to anyone.  One woman simply thought it was dumb.

Whole Foods and other stores routinely feature products that some consumers may not like for whatever reason (chickenless nuggets, flaxmilk, vegan cane sugar?).

However, while some might not care for certain products, others might react just the opposite and love them.  Consumers should be the ones who make the decision whether to buy or not buy a product, not Internet trolls.

It takes a considerable amount of time, effort and money to develop a product and actually get it on the shelves.  One study says the failure rate is an astounding 70-80 percent on a new product.

Maybe the asparagus water in Whole Foods was developed by a small vendor who was going to donate profits to good causes.  Maybe an aspiring entrepreneur came up with the product after years of work and is now bankrupt.

Do social media snobs care?  Not one iota.  They just relish the fact they can get on their computer and get businesses to bow down to their individual wishes.

If businesses continue to overreact to a small group of social media lynch mobs every time a handful say they dislike something the situation will only get worse.  Bullies only get worse when they are not stopped.

Yes, it is important for businesses to listen to what’s happening on social media.  That doesn’t mean they should allow themselves to be bullied by the whims of a few posters hiding behind a computer screen.

Sometimes developing a little backbone goes a long way.  Whole Foods and other companies might want to try it in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Responses

  1. Mike Throop says:

    VIRAL EVENT
    Then, there’s this viral event involving Whole foods in Washington D.C.
    http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/2015/08/03/clydes-wholefoods-protest/31077801/

  2. Dennis Lawrence says:

    FLAG
    It wasn’t so much that folks blamed the killings on the Confederate flag. But the sight of the American flag at half mast while the Confederate Flag flew at full mast opened up the conversation as to why the flag was allowed on state property. South Carolina led the movement to remove it.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      What people didn’t realize is that Confederate flag was permanently affixed to the monument and could not be lowered.

  3. Dennis Lawrence says:

    But, it was lowered.
    If you saw the video of the taking down of the flag,a state trooper turned the crank and lowered it. That could have been done the day the US flag was lowered, but was not. The image of a US flag in mourning and a Confederate flag at full mast was too jarring to be ignored.

    Bottom line. In my opinion, Anyone can fly the Confederate flag on their own property, and I think the General Lee in Dukes is just fine with the flag on top..

    But it cannot fly over our houses of government because it is not our flag.

    That is what became accepted and that is why it was removed.

    Social media reflected a larger conversation not drove it.

  4. Nobody Important says:

    WORKS BOTH WAYS
    Works both ways, John. One right-with-Jesus consumer complained about my company’s product and it was pulled from shelves across the entire southeast US. This cost us money and jobs.

    Hypocrite cafeteria Christians!

  5. such a nice article and wonderful site

  6. The social network is the best source of business growth…

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