Ice cream flame flap shows how dangerous social media can be

October 22, 2012

Social Media

Get Hired Fast - Wilcoxson's Ice CreamSocial media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can certainly help you find a job. They make networking a far easier task. But be careful. These same sites can seriously damage your reputation.

Just ask Matt Schaeffer, Chief Executive Officer of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream in Livingston, Montana.

His Facebook response to a customer question has ignited a furor and has led to claims that he is racist. It might even lead to a loss of customers.

The event is a good lesson for anyone trying to find employment.

How not to use Social Media

According to a recent story by the Huffington Post, on Sept. 21, a customer of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream posted a message on the company’s Facebook page saying that he loved the company’s product but wanted to know whether the ice cream contained pork gelatin. The customer is a Muslim and is not allowed to eat pork products.

Schaeffer responded with the following message: “We don’t deliver outside of Montana, certainly not Pakistan.”

The customer wasn’t pleased, wrote that he lived in Sheridan, Wyoming, and vowed to never buy the company’s ice cream again.

The exchange quickly went viral with angry Facebook posters accusing the company and its CEO of being racist. Schaffer told a local newspaper that he has had to shut down the company’s Facebook page.

The Explanation

Schaeffer also told the paper that his response was not meant to be a racist comment. He said he honestly thought the customer was from Pakistan.

What’s important here, though, from a business standpoint, is that Shaeffer’s response wasn’t thought out. He answered curtly, even if he didn’t mean to be racist. A better response would have acknowledged the customer’s compliment about Wilcoxson’s ice cream and would have provided a real answer. Schaeffer’s response did not provide any answer to the customer’s gelatin-related question.

Now Schaeffer and his company are paying the price. According to the Huffington Post story, online reviewers have been posting negative reviews of the ice cream company online at sites such as Reddit and Yelp.

The Social Media Challenge

The ice cream case presents a perfect example of how Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can damage your job search. A social media job search is an important part of anyone’s job search efforts, but you have to constantly be on guard over what you say on these sites. It’s awfully easy to insult people, even if you don’t mean to.

If you need additional job search advice, consider signing up for our Get Hired Boot CampGet Hired Fast - Wilcoxson's Ice Cream. We’ll teach you how to use social media to help, not hurt, your job search.

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