Image courtesy of J. Reed.
Not a good week for US fast food chain Chick-Fil-A. After the company's President, Dan Kathy, made comments about being against gay marriage, he probably didn't anticipate the drubbing his company would take on the Internet.
The Chick-Fil-A Facebook Page has since been hammered by those offended by Cathy's remarks, turning the Page into a "message board for activism against the company." Pretty much a full blown PR and social media crisis.
But to make matters worse, someone had taken to Facebook to defend Chick-Fil-A – by creating a fake profile, complete with stock image headshot. The company has denied that it had anything to do with it, but there is no question that the account was set up to counter the tide against the company. The problem is, no matter who was behind it someone made a ham-fisted attempt to defend the chain and was almost immediately called out on it.
I would absolutely not recommend using such tactics, especially when the Internet is mad at you. With a target on your back, people will spend hours examining every move you or anyone affiliated with you (formally or informally) is making.
However, if you feel you must set up a profile to defend your organizations honour (don't say I didn't warn you), I offer some free advice:
- Set up the account before you have a problem. Not hours after the issue blows up.
- Make the profile real. Add friends (there are lots of people willing to friend anyone), publish status updates, even photos. Again, all beforehand.
- There are lots of photos of people on the Internet – even those in far away countries who have never heard of your organization. Heck, if you're already creating a fake account, I'm guessing borrowing someone's headshot won't be an issue. Stock photos are just unwise.
I say again: the best defense is to grow and nurture a legitimate online community that loves your organization and will defend it. But if your short on fans and need a reputation insurance policy, it pays to plan ahead.