Accident Prevention

Following on from yesterday’s post on how companies might occasionally freak out customers by listening to them when they least expect it, today I want to look at how companies should exercise a little caution when it comes to responding to praise.

It seems that Whole Foods also tracks mentions of itself on twitter and occasionally will retweet positive comments to its own followers. A while ago, it retweeted the following as it’s Tweet of the Day (TOTD).

TOTD: @Joanmarie Oh my f’ing gawd: Whole Foods has Hatch Chiles. From NM. On sale. Apparently I have died, but am not as evil as I thought.


Understandably a few people took exception to the use of ‘language’ being repeated by a wholesome food chain, especially as it wasn’t terribly clear that WholeFoods was repeating the exact words of someone else. I picked the story up from MarketingProfs Daily Fix who saw the original retweet and posted about its appropriateness.

Now personally I have no issue with the swearing but then again I’m a bit of a Sweary Mary myself but I did find the response from the originator of the profanity most interesting:

If I offended anyone, I’m truly sorry. That most certainly was NOT my intent. Nor was it my intent to distract folks from the message that @wholefoods is trying to convey. And I feel just awful for having done so. Whole Foods is a wonderful company, and THAT is the message that folks should hear, and continue to hear: Whole Foods cares about the environment; Whole Foods cares about fair trade; Whole Foods cares about their customers; Whole Foods offers excellent products.
Ya know, I never meant to be an “evangelist.” Yes, I love Whole Foods. Yes, I regularly drive 60 miles round trip to get my groceries there because I believe in their products, their philosophy, and my health. Yes, I talk about Whole Foods to my friends quite a bit…. And, hence, yes, I should know that this makes me an “evangelist”. :-) I didn’t think…. Like I said, I found chiles, I was extremely happy, I got out my sidekick and told my friends. That was all.


It’s very nice that she apologised even though it wasn’t her fault.  She thought that what she said would go to her friends and that was all.  Yes, for Wholefoods to have picked it up the update must also have been part of the public stream but far worse is said there and really, who the hell reads that random stream of consciousness?

I like the fact that she apologises to Whole Foods even though they are the one who took her comments out of her social context and put them into its own, where they were far less appropriate. Really it should be Whole Foods apologising to @joanmarie for taking her comment without asking her first if they could.

Which I think forms the second lesson of the week for businesses who are playing in the social media space.  Lesson one from yesterday must be “not everyone is going to be grateful that you’re eavesdropping, even if you’re doing it to help them.

Today’s lesson is “even if someone states in a public forum that they love your brand, that doesn’t mean they are giving you the automatic right to re-use that statement as you see fit”

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