Public reprimands Bing for socially irresponsible tweeting during Japan earthquake relief efforts

A tasteless tweet from Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has left a bad taste in the public’s mouth.  With thousands dead or missing in the wake of Japan’s recent 8.9 earthquake, Bing social media managers were busy at work masking self-promotion with Twitter relief efforts.

Bing's tacky tweetAs rescue and relief aid efforts were underway, Bing joined in and asked its Twitter audience to support Japan by retweeting their infamous tweet:

How you can #SupportJapan – http://binged.it/fEh7iT.  For Every retweet, @bing will give $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100K.

This move was quickly criticized by the public for being “tacky,””self-serving” and “insensitive.” Others have defended the internet search engine by highlighting that Bing was simply attempting to serve as a medium for the public, giving them an outlet to provide much needed financial support.

After much backlash, Bing tweeted an apology for the misinterpretation of its previous, well-intentioned tweet:

We apologize the tweet was negatively perceived.  Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan.  We have donated $100K.

The problem with Bing’s poorly welcomed relief effort lies in this non-apologetic tweet.  Perhaps the audience could have forgiven the marketing-tone of the first tweet if Bing had ultimately offered a sincere apology.  Instead Bing attributed the negative reception of its tweet to misinterpretation of its followers.  Oops! Never blame the audience!  Simply apologize for the mistake, rectify it and move on.  That might have given people some time to remember that Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates is one of the most philanthropic people in the US..

Unfortunately for Microsoft’s search engine, their attempt at mixing marketing with social engagement has left a bad taste in some Twitter follower’s mouths.

What do you think?  Do the means justify the end?  Were Bing’s efforts at providing relief overshadowed by their marketing tactics?

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