They quickly pulled the tweet, and spent the next several hours personally apologizing to just about everyone who tweeted at them about it in the short time it was up (which was a lot of people). My first question, when I heard the story, wasn’t, “How could they have done that?” It would be obvious even if they hadn’t tweeted the explanation:
Because why would they. This is the knee-jerk impulse of terrible social media management: if something is trending, get on that shit. Why bother finding out what it actually means? That might take, oh, a minute and a half, but that’s a minute and a half of precious, wasted “impressions” and “branding.” #WhyIStayed is probably just about why people stay with people! NOW LET’S PIZZA THAT SHIT UP.
So the cause of the error isn’t the question, any more than the question is, “Why would Build-A-Bear or White Castle or Applebee’s or a Yoga studio or a masturbatory aid think it was tasteful or necessary or savvy branding to remind us to never forget about 9/11?” The question is, why the hell are people following them in the first place? Look, I’ll own it: I eat DiGiorno’s Pizza regularly. (I’m not saying so out of pride. But “cheap, easy, and digestible” goes a long way when you’ve got a one-year-old.) And there’s never been one moment during the consumption of those many — and I do mean many — rising-crust pepperoni pizzas where I’ve thought to myself, “Ya know what? I don’t know enough about DiGiorno Pizza, and those obnoxious ‘It’s not delivery’ commercials aren’t providing me with sufficient advertising for this frozen pizza company. Why aren’t I following them, on the Twitter?” But — and you might wanna sit down for this — 82,000 people have had something resembling that thought, and clicked “follow.” Applebee’s has 372,000 followers. Build-A-Bear, home of the cammy-clad 9/11 bear, has 47,000. And 41,000 are following Fleshlight.
At risk of invoking Jerry Seinfeld, who are these people? Because they’re just as much to blame for these kerfuffles as the poor saps running these feeds, or the suits who pay them (poorly, most likely). The importance and value of carving out a social media presence for a company, no matter how big or small, is indisputable — and it can be done well, as with A24 Films’ Twitter or Denny’s Tumblr (to name two of the most obvious examples). But serious occasions often serve as a harsh reminder of how many are doing it wrong, and as long as the rest of us keep soliciting their solicitations, they’ve got little impetus to do otherwise.