Jim Walter wasn’t expecting any kind of reaction when he left a thank-you on Target’s Facebook wall. He simply wanted to acknowledge a person who had done a job well, and a corporation that had done something good.
“I expected no reaction from Target, and very little reaction from Facebook at large,” Jim wrote to me in an email. “I hoped for an acknowledgement from Corporate Target of the good job that our local Target had done with their hiring, and maybe a shout out to the employee in particular that people had noticed he was doing good work.”
Full disclosure: Jim’s a friend of mine. He’s a blogger and a dad of a little girl on the autism spectrum. I saw his Facebook status when he first posted it, clicked “like” and went about my day. At that point, the comment had nine “likes.” Next thing I knew, it was showing up in my Facebook feed every which-way.
So why did a simple thank-you suddenly have, at this writing, nearly 125,000 “likes” in under 24 hours?
Because Jim was thanking Target for hiring a capable, efficient cashier. Who happens to be (most likely) on the autism spectrum.
“I’m not sure what my aim was entirely,” Jim wrote in a blog post this morning. “I don’t think I really thought it through, but it was at the very least ‘Hey, friends who have kids with autism and know me. . . or friends who have autism who know me, look at what I saw at Target. . . neat, right?’ and also I was hoping that maybe Target corporate would look at the dozen or two likes and comments from these friends and communicate to the Target I shop at, ‘Good work, local store, your patrons appreciate your hiring diversity.'”
About 300 likes into things, a Target team member responded: “Hi Jim – It’s great to hear when our Team Members provide you with an enjoyable shopping experience. We’ll be glad to pass along your comments to the Ross Township Store Leadership team. —Thelma”
When I spoke with a Target spokesperson today, she said that she had also seen the post come across her own Facebook page.
“Target is committed to creating a workplace where team members feel welcome, valued and respected regardless of their background or life experiences,” Jessica Stevens, Target spokesperson, said. “To that end, we work diligently to support our team members and guests with limitations and disabilities. We love hearing stories and reading comments like Mr. Walter’s that recognize the great team we have at Target and acknowledge that we’re doing the right thing.”
As evidenced by the still-increasing number of “likes,” the vast majority of the responses have been hugely positive. A handful of comments accused Jim of being a public relations shill for Target (I can confirm that he is not), or that Target shouldn’t be praised for not discriminating, or that it’s the employee who should be commended, not Target. The remaining negative comments were “random asshattery,” Jim wrote.
“I did not count on that sort of response on Facebook,” Jim wrote in his blog, Just a Lil Blog. “For me a huge response is like…60 likes. It wasn’t meant to generate attention or traffic for me, or really for Target for that matter. It was just supposed to be a heads up to the special needs community that Target does good things and a kudos to Target for doing them.”
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