Day 102

Sometimes things can unexpectedly go a different direction.

Social media can be a blessing and a curse.

It can be extremely helpful for a business to build their brand and interact with their customers. It’s vital to every business. And it’s something that the Chol Chol Foundation specifically asked for help with.

Now, I’m a designer, but I do have had some agency experience with social media. In my time at Ogilvy, I was a digital art director, working with a copywriter to often times create emails and social media posts for brands like Huggies and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. It had been a few years, but I at least felt capable enough to help build their brand. And it was especially helpful that I had content from the videos that I am creating to beef up their presence.

I went into it thinking social media is the same in all countries. But I am still careful; I mock up the posts for Susana and Yasmin to review prior to posting anything; mostly to ensure the brand voice is consistent and I don’t have any grammatical errors.

An example of the mockups I create for Susana and Yasmin.

Something I’ve been struggling with though is the fact that Spanish isn’t my first language, and I’m not good at it (haha). The Foundation has a very poetic and thoughtful tone of voice that I can’t reach through my rudimentary base of Spanish. But, I think Yasmin and Susana appreciate the starting point or idea behind each post, and they can help with the language as necessary. I still sometimes feel like the posts seem very elementary, but I’m doing what I can.

Everything had been going great; engagement was slowly growing and we were gaining followers. For March, I decided to post pictures of the artisans to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Foundation has contracts with all the artisans that allows them to use photos, videos, etc. on various platforms, so we were in the clear there. And I thought people would connect with the artisan and show the woman behind the project.

The first artisan I wanted to feature was Rosa, the oldest artisan with the Foundation. I showed a portrait of her in the first post, then focused on her work in the second, which is spinning wool, as she doesn’t weave anymore:

The post explains how Rosa learned to spin wool when she was 12 years old, is self-taught, and how she’s an incredible woman to celebrate.

Simple, right? Well, I was wrong. People started commenting on it and engagement went through the roof! But I started to read into the comments more and saw that people were upset that we didn’t show her face (even though the post two days prior did show her face):

“Nice picture but I want to see Rosa, not just her hands.”
“My pretty old lady; hey cousin you did not take the photo well.”
“Beautiful.. her hands speak for themselves.. since you don’t show her face!!!”
“Why don’t you show my grandmother’s photo?”
“Show Rosa!”

I actually realized all of this was happening when we were on our Spring Break, so I emailed Yasmin asking what she thought. I had never thought people would be upset at a photo like that. Yasmin told me not to worry, to upload one of the other portraits I took of Rosa, and that she would respond individually to each person. So I adjusted it to the below:

Yasmin ensured me that it was okay, but it still bothered me a bit. I felt bad that something had backfired. And we even received another comment from a guy criticizing how the Foundation takes a big cut of the profit from artisans. Not good. I didn’t want to create any bad publicity around the Foundation.

I continued with our planned posts and a few more went on without any trouble, until last week when I posted this photo of Margarita:

This post explains that we are celebrating women all month. Margarita is an artisan with a smile like the sun, and learned to knit from her mother.

Everything was fine, until the same person that made a comment previously (about the cut the Foundation takes from products) commented again:

“The best way to celebrate these incredible women…is to pay them for using their image for publicity for the Foundation.”

I CAN’T WIN. I texted Yasmin the bad news again. I felt terrible that I was creating more work for everyone. This interaction between Yasmin/Susana (under the Foundation’s name) and this Roberto ended up going back and forth a few times, until ultimately, they made the call to disable him from commenting. It seemed he was on a mission to knock down the Foundation, although it seems he misunderstood a lot of things about Chol Chol. Susana and Yasmin found his posts offensive and said “he was trying to save the world”, and ultimately it’s for the best to remove him from being able to comment on the Foundation’s page.

So, I hope it will be quiet for a bit longer. Needless to say, I decided to focus on the process and products for the next month of social posts, haha, and maybe ease our way back into featuring artisans.

At the end of the day, it made me realize that I can’t make any assumptions about Chol Chol’s audience and social media in general. We are in a different country and a different culture, so I need to be sensitive to that. It was a big learning experience for everyone; I don’t think Yasmin or Susana anticipated anything like that happening. But, I’m hoping we can get things back on track with focusing on our event for International Fair Trade Day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s