How the Boy Scouts Blew It On Facebook

By August 16, 2012Uncategorized

Are we really still discussing this? It’s hard to believe, but yes we are. Another example of lame-brained Facebook behavior from a large organization that can’t seem to get out of its own way. This week’s contestant? The Boy Scouts of America.

I ran across the exchange below in my Facebook stream. It seems Wells Fargo was celebrating their continued support of scouting with an event, photo opp, etc. and posted this on their Facebook page. All great. Predictably, the posting got a comment, highlighted in yellow below, decrying their exclusionary practices, which are well -known.

See below:

I have no problem with an organization making decisions about how they want to operate, even if I don’t agree with their point of view. What I have a problem with in this case is that once again, a large organization with a lot to lose when things go wrong got it VERY wrong on the social networks.

If you’re going to to engage on these platforms, your point of view is going to be front and center at some point. If you stifle discussion of that point of view, you appear to be hiding something or afraid of the interaction. You also raise the profile of the very thing you’re trying to avoid and open yourself up to bigger headaches. In this case, they have reminded a new group of Facebook readers of their exclusionary policies, lost a long-time supporter and fund-raiser, and appeared opaque and untrustworthy.

What do you think? Is Facebook an appropriate venue to discuss your brand’s philosophies? If not, why are you there?


  • wendytime says:

    …Should an organization be forced to shut up, stay home, get off the internet instead of sharing their brand’s philosophies? Isn’t sharing a brand’s philosophy part of being present via social media? I’m a little confused by this post. What should the Stonewall Council have done instead?

  • rustyspeidel says:

     @wendytime My position is that they should have responded publicly to the comment within the post rather than deleting the comment and privately informing the commenter. They should own their position and have a solid policy for explaining it in social media forums. Deleting is not a policy that engenders trust. 

  • estesp says:

    Rusty, I don’t think I have any problem with your social media-related assessment of the situation, but have you conflated two different Facebook pages?  The Stonewall Jackson Area Council page represents a Virginia region from about Richmond to Staunton and through the Central VA area, including Charlottesville.  The BSA page is, obviously, the parent/national organization.
    Given the BSA page is absolutely filled with vitriol and hatred from both sides of the issue almost on every picture and status (e.g. a picture of “tents in a field” somehow inspired over 500 comments filled with mudslinging on both sides!), the national organization of the “Boy Scouts of America” doesn’t seem to be doing much “curating” of comments to keep debate off their page.  I can’t answer for the SJAC, but maybe your post is more appropriate to call out SJAC local council rather than the BSA national leadership for social media faux pas.

  • wendytime says:

     @rustyspeidel What if a brand’s public comment would spin off huge public debate such as we’ve seen happen to Chic-Fil-A ? I wouldn’t want my organization to be involved in a smear fest.

  • wendytime says:

     @rustyspeidel VERY good conversation to be had, this. Thanks for inspiring it!

  • Marijean says:

     @estesp You’re right — the page where the interaction above occurred was that of the Stonewall Jackson Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America — as identified at the top of the graphic. They are representatives of the BSA and the point Rusty makes is the same. 

  • estesp says:

     @Marijean Yes, I agree that Rusty’s article is applicable no matter which Facebook page, or even what organization might be involved.  My point was his article actually links to the national BSA page (and still does).  I wouldn’t have even commented, but I happened to click the link when I first read the article, and as I looked for the picture being discussed, one of the first things I found was a picture with 500+ comments debating (ok, a kind interpretation of what was going on there!) the BSA policy in question.  Given that flies in the face of what the article states, my comment here was not to try and be pedantic, but rather give a chance to make the article more coherent by pointing to the place where this kind of poor social media behavior is actually occurring, rather than a page where wide open discussion on the policy is actually happening without BSA “controlling” the page content.

  • Marijean says:

     @estesp I’m going to address that in a follow up post — thanks!