Part of my varied responsibilities as vice president of the daily-deal site 1SaleADay.com include overseeing the management of its social media verticals. This includes the Facebook fan page, which boasts over 340,000 fans to date.
On the Facebook page we post funny photos, product updates, creative contests, poll questions, and whatever else we can think of that will help generate active user engagement. We keep the content politically neutral.
Or so I thought.
This past Sunday I posted a photoshopped Gilligan's Island parody of the GOP candidates. Sarah Palin is depicted as Mary Ann; Newt Gingrich as The Skipper; Rick Perry as Gilligan; Michelle Bachmann as Ginger Grant; Jon Huntsman as The Professor; Mitt Romney as Thurston Howell III; and Ron Paul as Natalie Schafer.
In my personal Facebook network the image had been well received by my conservative and liberal friends alike, so I figured the politically inclined would not take offense to it.
Boy was I wrong.
Here is the image on the 1SaleADay Facebook fan page:
Within minutes the picture was liked and shared by about 100 fans. Despite the fact that we clearly stated the posting was "not intended to be a political statement ...[but]... just some good natured humor," the politically divisive comments accusing 1SaleADay of being liberal leftists and threatening to stop buying from the company came flowing in mere moments after the photo's release into our 340,000+ followers' news feeds.
Here is a sampling of negative comments:
To mollify the concerns of our Facebook fans, and to avoid giving the wrong impression that the parody was a political statement about Ron Paul cross-dressing or the GOP as a whole, we removed the posting.
One presumably Republican poster bemoaned the lack of a Democratic Party parody, but cleverly turned the issue into a pro-GOP statement, saying, "the Dems probably couldn't survive on their own on an island without a government handout."
It is worth noting that many commenters were not offended because they recognized that the satirical image was fitting for a fun social networking page and that no political message was intended.
Here are some of the more lighthearted responses (including at least one from a self-declared republican):
For the record, 1SaleADay is entirely apolitical. Its CEO, Ben Federman, is involved with a wide spectrum of causes, including educational outreach programs, homeless shelters, children with special needs, multicultural community events, and military affiliated charities.
I'm quite surprised that a photoshopped parody of the GOP candidates would elicit such a firestorm. I can only wonder whether a parody of the DNC would elicit the same reaction. While there is nothing wrong with holding steadfast to one's political ideology, people should not be so fanatical in their beliefs that they lose the ability to differentiate between a joke and a deliberate political statement. My message to businesses is: Be super careful what you post on your social media channels. To the world I say: The remedy to our ever-growing divisiveness in politics is to lighten up - tune in to the Daily Show, South Park, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live. Stop taking politics so seriously.