SeaWorld's #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Backfires Massively

Photo: RexUSA
SeaWorld, like many a big company with a horrible image problem before it, took its case to the people via Twitter this week with an #AskSeaWorld hashtag. And, like many a big company's Twitter campaign before it, it was a failure almost instantly. Why is it that PR and marketing experts never seem to understand that the denizens of social media are not the same predictable masses one can reach, say, via TV ads?

Since the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, and the subsequent 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld has been struggling to convince the public that their orcas are not mistreated. Animal rights groups, along with many former trainers, have come out to say that the whales should not be held in captivity at all. After years of this negative publicity, the amusement park decided to launch a new campaign to "counter misinformation." And part of that campaign was to throw this #AskSeaWorld hashtag out there, promising answers from experts, which were then aggregated on the company's website.

There followed some of the questions SeaWorld wanted to answer, such as, "How do killer whales at SeaWorld help wild killer whales?" and even, "What are the facts about rake marks on whales and dolphins?" And yeah, a lot of the answers seem reasonable, provided you agree that it's OK for some wild animals to live in captivity in the first place.
But opponents of SeaWorld are much more organized than any random non-group of people that might be inclined to think positively toward the company. So, of course, the hashtag was filled with more pointed tweets, and that campaign is still going strong today:       
These are making the #McDStories seem like an Olivia Pope masterpiece. 

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