The 26th of June 2015 will go down in history.
The 26th of June marks the day 26 million people changed their profile pictures to a rainbow filter.
OK, the Supreme Court ruling in favour of same sex marriage was a little bit more historic, but the aftermath of approximately 2% of the Facebook populations changing their profile pictures in support is significant in the social media history books.
Along with the millions of individuals filtering their photos, so did businesses. Some of the worlds biggest companies including Ebay, Google, Facebook and Apple changed their profile pictures, associating themselves with same sex marriage. Although 379 companies in the states urged the Supreme Court to allow same sex marriage and approximately 50 major businesses in Australia, including the 4 big banks, QANTAS, David Jones and Telstra, taking an add in an Australian paper expressing their support for marriage equality, only a few of these corporations changed their Facebook profiles to the rainbow filtered photo.
I don’t know if they only support the movement on a superficial basic or if it didn’t fit their page theme or simply they forgot to change it, but I do strongly believe many of these companies know that making a statement on social media is a lot more drastic then just stating you support something. Criticism is more accessible on social media, and unfortunately with such a controversial issue some businesses would rather stay neutral than voice their support.
Today social media can make or break a company’s image and the way you portray yourself and associate yourself can vary peoples opinions.
Example 1: this hilarious case study of this old fellow. He was disgusted by NBC supporting same sex marriage and left this message for them.
However anyone who is even slightly familiar with NBC would know they have had a rainbow peacock for 30 years as their logo.
Even though this is a humorous situation, some of the hate companies got from associating themselves with marriage equality were disgusting. Ex-customers threatening to boycott the company was a common one seen when the photos were initially put up. Although I personally think it is a great initiative, a business has to be wary about anything they put up that might be a bit controversial. Companies like Tumblr, Buzzfeed and Gap wore the rainbow colours proudly as I think they were aware they had a younger, more accepting demographic, however banks, both in the USA and Australia, law and business firms and airlines were met with more hate. This is mainly due to the type of people witnessing their social media.
Locally, people had mixed reaction. When St George Bank showed their support
some of the top comments weren’t pleasant.
However on the flipside, there are a lot of people who praised businesses that supported the movement.
Multiple businesses put up there support via Twitter rather than Facebook. It’s harder for the general public to see hate on Twitter as someone has to retweet or reference the tweet on their own account. However Facebook, all negative comments are right below the photo or post of support. I think this conscious decision is a businesses best option. They can associate themselves with a cause they believe in but avoid direct hate in many cases.
A business has to be very careful with their online presence. It is sad that the accessibility of online discourages businesses in joining in on great social justice initiatives. In the end of the day, a company needs to evaluate the type of social media audience, if the post will hinder or improve their business and how much they care about the issue.