In 2013, I ranted about tacky social media practices businesses and organizations sometimes use in an effort to increase likes and clicks. I cited an ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) Facebook post which was soliciting “likes” as a means to show support to the families of 19 firefighters who had lost their lives battling an Arizona wildfire. Such a stupid attempt to garner “likes” would have done nothing to help anyone, except for whomever is responsible for measuring the growth and engagement of ABC 7’s social media presence.
More than five years later, ABC 7’s social media team still hasn’t learned. See the screenshot below to see for yourself.
Seen in the above image was a post made by ABC 7 Chicago on the same Facebook page, brought to my attention by a friend who thought the choice of words was especially odd coming from an iconic Chicagoland television news entity (the post was removed later in the evening). It was both odd and insensitive, considering that the news of Sear’s bankruptcy, coupled with the closing of many of their stores, will lead to a large number of people losing their jobs. The post quickly drew a number of similar comments by those who also thought it was insensitive, before it’s eventual deletion from the platform.
Considering the stupidity of that post and the ironic association of the ABC 7 station call letters (WLS-TV) with Sears, I decided to make note of it on Twitter. With only having a hundred or so followers, I knew such a tweet would more than likely go unnoticed, so perhaps being somewhat in a surly mood, I tagged Chicago media columnist Robert Feder in a followup post, since he is someone whose voice does matter. I was happy to see the incident mentioned by him in today’s column at RobertFeder.com (and I do appreciate the namedrop as well).
Viewers were incensed by a WLS-Channel 7 social media post that appeared to make light of the Sears bankruptcy filing Monday. “So long, Sears!” appeared on the ABC-owned station’s Facebook page under the words: “WOMP WOMP! Sears files for bankruptcy . . .” The gleeful tone of the post struck many as insensitive to the plight of those losing their jobs with the 132-year-old company. ABC 7 eventually deleted it. “We reposted our Sears story several times during the day,” a station spokeswoman said. “When we noticed one of the posts was misinterpreted, we took it down. We apologize to any of our Facebook followers who were offended.” It’s worth noting, as reader Martin Hawrysko pointed out, that WLS derived its call letters from Sears (“World’s Largest Store”) when the retailer owned radio station WLS 890-AM.
While ABC 7’s news efforts may primarily revolve around television, today’s use of multimedia means that such legacy brands have reputations to uphold across all mediums. Whether being represented on television or on Facebook, ABC 7 Chicago has to be better than what was exhibited in that post.