How to fail: Don’t use holidays to make a business or political point on social media

It seems, unfortunately, to be an American tradition when it comes to social media: taking advantage of holidays or sacred anniversaries for self-promotional purposes.

Last week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Naturally, much of the comments on the day turned to a discussion on race relations, equality and poverty.  If your social media feed was anything like mine, it was replete with quotes from Dr. King and commentary on the state of racial equality, police relations and the ongoing fight for full and real equality.  By and large, it was an uplifting reminder that so many Americans continue to pay attention to serious issues.

At least two businesses missed that boat.

First was this brilliant tweet from the Seattle Seahawks, who were one day removed from their stunning comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game:

Seahawks MLK Tweet

The tweet was quickly deleted, and the Seahawks apologized:

Then we have this brilliance from Fatburger:

FatBurger MLK Tweet

They are, of course, far from the only ones to ever misappropriate an American holiday or anniversary for self-promotional purposes.  About a year and a half ago, no the 50th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech, the Golf Channel came out with this inspired piece of idiocy:

Golf Channel MLK Tweet

They, too, deleted the tweet and apologized.

Of course, these tacky tweets are far from limited to MLK Day – on September 11, it sometimes seems as if brands and businesses have a contest to see who can tweet out something stupider.

Here’s my point: If you are a business, or an elected official, be careful with what you say on a special day.  Do not try to take advantage of it for your own self-promotional purposes.  If you choose to make a post acknowledging a holiday or anniversary, keep your commentary and imagery relevant to the day and to the values that the day celebrates – do NOT try to promote yourself.  Generally speaking, if a post is devoid of such lunacy, it will be well received.  If it veers into self promotion or money making, you’ve crossed the line, and the internet community will smack you down.

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