By now you’ve probably heard of the greasy situation Chick-fil-A has gotten itself into recently. And this greasy situation has nothing to do with fried food.
Jim Henson’s company recently severed their ties with Chick-fil-A due to their stance on gay marriage. Not only is this a great example on why your business shouldn’t take a stance on sensitive issues – but this is a great opportunity to show how Chick-fil-A let 14 little words ruin their reputation.
These 14 words didn’t involve gay marriage, either. They involve the purported accusation that Chick-fil-A created a false account to comment on their Facebook page to counter the response to Jim Henson’s company parting ways with the fast food establishment, according to the Huffington Post.
To be clear – I am not accusing Chick-fil-A of doing this. Although I do admit I find it quite ironic that the profile was created 8 hours prior to the actual posting and the fact the picture in the profile was a stock photo. This just shows sloppy work to support an agenda – not that Chick-fil-A was behind it.
To the person who did do this – really? What teenage girl knows what toys are in the kids meal served at Chick-Fil-A anyways? All of the teenage girls I know are too busy texting and avoiding their parents.
There were – at the time of writing this blog – 8,807 comments to Chick-fil_A’s post about the incident. I couldn’t possibly read them all.
But I read enough to know that Chick-fil-A didn’t handle this right to protect their brand.
First – their post on Friday, July 27th is very confrontational. The need to “set the facts straight” comes across as very defensive. If in fact you did sever ties on the 19th – 1 day prior to the Jim Henson claiming he did on the 20th – why wouldn’t you just share some documentation to prove what you say? This surely would quiet the masses, wouldn’t it? If you can’t share documentation – at the very least provide some facts to “set the facts straight.” I mean – what was the problem? How many kids got their finger stuck in the toy? What hazard did it cause? I don’t know – mention some “facts.”
Second – Of the 200+ Facebook comment’s I’ve read – out of 8,807 as of Friday afternoon – I don’t see any actually from Chick-fil-A. I am fairly certain the leaders of the fast food joint have taken the approach of – let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist and let it go away. WRONG move! You need to be listening, commenting, and staying in front of the mob that is boycotting your stores. (See #nbcfail)
Third – I think it’s great that you’ve created a culture and belief that you live by in all facets of your business. However – understand not everyone who visits your stores (or used to atleast) is Christian. You’re entitled to your own opinion. You’re entitled to support what you want. But did you really think the GLBT community (and GLBT supporters) would continue to put money in your pocket that you then used to anti-gay marriage groups? This is what happens when you give your viewpoint on sensitive issues. Again – you’re entitled to support what you want. But you also open the door for the criticism that comes with it.
So moral of the story?
- You’re better off keeping out of sensitive subjects. You will create allies and you will create enemies. Unless something is going to alter the way you do business – and in the above situation – I am not sure how gay people getting married affects your ability to make chicken – stay out of it.
- When something like this does happen – watch every word you say. Don’t start off by saying “to set the facts straight…” – start off with something like – “To be upfront and transparent…” Both phrases say the same thing yet give much different emotions.
- Provide the facts. Using social media for business is all about building a relationship with your customers. When that relationship is strong – people trust you and recommend you. When people feel like they’re being lied to – or that you have something to hide – they turn their backs to you. Be factual and open and honest.
- Be on top of it. When something like this happens – don’t pretend it will go away. Because it won’t. Acknowledge the comments being made and stand behind the culture you’ve created. If your culture is one of open and honest communication – you will be on top of it anyways.
So did Chick-fil-A actually pretend to be a teenage girl to respond? I don’t think anyone really knows the truth. If they did – I wouldn’t visit their restaurants. Not because of their stance on gay marriage – but because they broke my trust by being dishonest.
One lesson my parent’s always taught me – the truth always comes out eventually…