Social Media Fail – @GirlScouts Crush A Girl’s Social Good, Then Make It Worse!

After an amazing #SMRebelsHelp chat last night where our young 11 year old guest, @emmavermaak01 joined to talk about her project to not just sell a few cookies, but to raise donations for many more cookies that could be sent to our troops over seas, everything completely fell apart. Even though the Girl Scouts twitter account heard about it and gave Emma kudos for her efforts, everything changed the next afternoon when apparently a jealous mom in Emma’s troop contacted officials, resulting in some organization executives getting involved.

Social Media Fail
photo credit: amanky via photopin cc

The word to Emma’s mom? – Emma is not allowed to accept donations via PayPal for the Girl Scouts “I Care Program” for cookies for troops. She can only take cash or checks.

According to the national website: “What Do Girl Scouts Do? Girl Scouts earn badges, hike and camp, participate in the cookie program, and much more. They improve neighborhoods, protect the planet, design robots, and establish sports clinics.”

Apparently only with cash and checks…  Seriously Girl Scouts? What year are you stuck in?

Here are the main issues I see with this massive fail by the Girl Scouts in this situation.

1) This is 2013. We are all online and no longer live in the same neighborhoods, cities or even states. Our families, friends and associates are spread around the world. Cash and checks are no longer even something I use! How can a young girl change the world and touch hundreds of soldiers if she is stuck in 1950?

2) This is still 2013. We are all in social media. We highlighted a young girl with initiative that you taught to have such initiative and supported her effort to make a difference. We did it in social media and reached over 500,000 people in the process. You tweeted her that she is doing exactly what Girl Scouts is all about.

3) The only response in the social graph from the organization regarding this situation is as seen in the image below. Not so helpful…

Social Media Fail4) Tracking funds – A comment was made that when donations or sales are made via PayPal, there is no way for them to track it and prove all monies are being given over. Really? But you guys are able to do that with cash payments? Seriously ridiculous.

As if bad could get any worse. It can and does.

In an interview with Emma’s mother this afternoon, I found out that Emma’s own troop leader is the one who alerted the Council. It appears that some jealousy about her child not selling the most cookies may be the reason for the tattle telling mom. This mom currently has friends selling cookies FOR her daughter out of the local Red Robin.  Hmmmm, I wonder if that is also a trait taught by the national program? I hope not…

Emma’s mother had a conversation with the local council VP of Retail and Product Sales, whom was “pretty rude”. She said, “that by us helping Emma get the word out on social media, we are not helping her to learn real skills like she does by going door to door.”

Mind you, this campaign of Emma’s is in “addition” to doing all the door to door activity she is already doing, in an effort to raise donations for MORE cookies to be given to our troops.

The VP continued by saying. “The online, social media stuff does not matter because it is behind a computer. Not real life!!”

Needless to say, Emma’s mother and I were shocked. What year is this organization living in? We are all now online, in social media and therefore what better skills should be taught to these young girls?

I for one am floored at the snotty response, backward thinking and utter ignorance to social media and its place in the world today by this organization. I for one will not allow my daughter to be involved in an organization that has leaders more concerned about their kids “winning” than the good that one young lady was attempting to achieve for lonely soldiers. I for one will not support an organization that sells a product using methods that are so clearly out of date that it is in no way preparing their children members for the realities of the world today. I for one will be boycotting Girl Scouts and their cookie selling venture that seems to be more about  bloated executive teams, their control of others, their salaries and not the girls they say they are teaching.

I say we get @Oreo involved with the cookies for troops campaign, let Emma head up the social media for it and get Oreo cookies in the bellies of soldiers all around the world, showing them we care for them and support young people with social good at their core! Make sure you tweet this article to Oreo, so they’re aware of what’s happening!

Who’s with me?

*UPDATE – Emma and her mom have modified the link for donations. So many people asked how they could send checks, that the donate button takes you to the information to send your donation for Emma’s mission to send cookies to our troops.

Robert M. Caruso
Robert M. Caruso is a long time social media professional and founder of Bundlepost, the first social content management system. His company develops social media technologies that increase social media agencies and marketers efficiency, effectiveness and profitability. Robert also consults brands internationally on their social media marketing and writes weekly for his company blog.

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132 Comments on "Social Media Fail – @GirlScouts Crush A Girl’s Social Good, Then Make It Worse!"

Lee K.
March 20, 2013

Definitely it is to keep the sale local and definitely, social skills are important. We are becoming a country of Wall-e people. She should hoof it, like the rest of the girls!

DJ Thistle
March 20, 2013

Lee, did you read the whole article? She was doing the online sales in addition to the door to door stuff. She was "hoofing" it like the rest of them.

March 5, 2013

Just so everyone knows also, in the Fall we participate in Nut Sales for our troop. Guess what? You can generate a link for each individual girl where they can sell the Nuts ONLINE. So how is this any different??

February 22, 2013

What lesson are you teaching your daughter by going against the guidelines and directive of the organization she is a member of? Rules are rules…..

February 20, 2013

Emma is supposed to go door-to-door. What does Safety Wise say about door-to-door sales these days?

Elana Winfrey
February 17, 2013

As a Girl Scout Alumni (1st—12th grade), let me first say, that I love and support GS, and the building of girls’ character.

I hope that GS re-evaluates the method of transacting business—it’s 2013. I have not been able to purchase cookies from Troops standing outside of grocery stores for several years. Why? i use a debit card 99.9% of the time. I have asked the Leaders standing with the girls if they could use Square or a PayPal card swipe. The response both times was no; with admissions both times that many people don’t buy for the same reason as me—-most don’t use checks and don’t carry cash anymore. A huge loss for the girls in my opinion. Also a huge loss in what GS is teaching. All businesses, as of about 2008, use eCommerce for sales transactions. So the entrepreneurship badge is waaaaay behind current business models, in regard to the teachings. Social media and eCommerce are growing and going string. If a child runs a lemonade stand, they will struggle if not able to accept debit/cards on the spot. Get Square or PayPal reader, make more sales. Call it a day. It’s now standard practice.

Oh—got my case of Samoas. Since we use our debit card and Bill Pay, and haven’t ordered checks in years, had to run to the ATM to get cash—HUGE inconvenience. Cookies are gooooood though! [[nom-nom-nom-nom]]