In Vancouver, a member of the B.C. Lions Football Club has come under significant media scrutiny for racial slurs he made in his Twitter feed. Later realizing his error, he apologized publicly but the damage had been done! The B.C. Lions are attempting to limit the impact of one team member’s impact on their organization by commenting on the situation in the media and removing him from the up-coming game. This is a great example of how one message sent without considering its impact on others can come back to bite you.
Social media is a very public yet a fabulous vehicle to connect with others. Social media makes it very easy to share your frustrations and bad experiences with the world. Too often people say things in social media posts they later come to regret. Always take time to ensure your message is well thought out and not a flash of emotion — once your post is out there, you cannot take it back!
In my book, “Ignite Your Social Media – A Guide for Professionals” I have discussed why it is important to be professional when communicating to such a wide audience. What you post on social media sites is like a posting a message on a huge billboard on the side of the highway – it is there for everyone to see. The main difference is that once it is out there you cannot take it down! Social media is so much a part of so many people’s lives and so easily accessed, there are frequently errors in judgement. These errors can easily come back to haunt you – now or in the distant future.
In the BC Lions example, it is not the owners of the organization who have caused the ripple in their image — instead it is a team member who has a high public profile. No matter who it is – a top executive, a high profile team member or a member of your team in a less public position, a comment made without due consideration can be very detrimental. I really liked the comment made by BC Lions president and CEO Dennis Skulsky in his radio interview. Skulsky said [paraphrased] … everything you say and do is a reflection of this organization, yourself and your uniform. This is so true. No matter if you are commenting during your private life or in your business role, words, pictures and actions are a reflection of who you are.
A social media policy is a critical component in any organization. A well-written social media policy will share your expectations with your employees The policy should include clear guidelines associated with what can be communicated, when, how and by whom. The expectation should be that executives, managers, employees, contractors or others associated with your organization conduct themselves professionally at all times – on and off duty as they are an extension of your business. The BC Lions orientate their team members on using social media as well as the impact of the actions both on and off the field. Even with policies and guidelines in place, errors in judgement can occur which can impact your professionalism, or that of your business.
Here are four key questions to ask yourself before writing and again before hitting the send button!
- Will you be comfortable with the world seeing your post?
- Will you be proud of it 1, 2, 5 years from now?
- Will it impact your reputation – if so positively or negatively?
- What impact will your post have on your career or business, or your employer?