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Working in business? Don't throw a tantrum on Twitter

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 7 2013 8:40 a.m. MDT

Celebrities aren't the only folks who struggle with maintaining maturity on social media — company spokespeople sometimes fall into the same behavior. (Shutterstock) Celebrities aren't the only folks who struggle with maintaining maturity on social media — company spokespeople sometimes fall into the same behavior. (Shutterstock)

Earlier this week Jillian Rayfield, writing for salon.com, calls out Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Garza for his rant against opponent Eric Sogard, his manhood and his game-winning bunt during Sunday’s game against the A’s. But that isn’t all. It seems Sogard’s wife got sucked into the maelstrom, too. Why is it that so many athletes and celebrities regularly melt down on social media? You’d think they’d have learned by now that a public tantrum on Twitter, or any social media, just isn’t a good idea.

But then again, celebrities aren’t the only folks who struggle maintaining maturity on social media — company spokespeople sometimes fall into the same behavior. Without going into the details of Garza’s embarrassing 15 minutes on Twitter, suffice it to say, there was a lot of poor sportsmanship, crude invective and sour grapes. I’ve witnessed the same thing when restaurants and other businesses publicly argue with critics — à la Amy’s Baking Company’s viral Facebook rant that received a lot of media attention just a couple of months ago.

I’ve spent the last few years of my career knee-deep in social media. I’m a daily citizen both professionally and personally. Garza and all the other celebrities, athletes, business professionals and individuals on social media who find themselves shouting at the wind, like a lunatic screaming in the cul-de-sac, fail to remember that tantrums on Twitter or Facebook are public tantrums — just like the 2-year-old kicking and screaming on the floor in the grocery store because his or her mother wouldn’t buy the candy he or she wanted.

Although teenagers might not look at it this way, those of us who spend time on social media professionally (and that should include celebrities and professional athletes) need to look at the media as a way to interact with fans and build our brands. I’m not convinced that all PR is good PR. I am convinced that positive brand impressions are good for companies and individuals, while negative brand impressions, like Garza’s tantrum, are not.

As a company spokesperson, before I write a blog post, make a Twitter update or post something to my Facebook, I always ask myself two questions:

Will this embarrass my company? Even on personal posts that have nothing to do with my position at work, I still consider the brand impact my post could have on my company. My personal brand (and, yes, I consider it that way) and my company’s brand are somewhat intertwined, so if what I’m about to post could be a negative brand impression, I don’t post it. Garza wasn’t thinking of his brand or the Rangers brand when he went off on Sogard and his wife. If he had paused for just a minute before he made the first post, he may not have done it. Then again, if his non-apology to his fans is any indication, he doesn’t care much for his own public image, let alone the Rangers'.

Will this embarrass my mother? Yeah, even at 53 I still care what my mother thinks. At least when I ask myself that question, it reminds me of the values I claim to espouse — and what I was taught was appropriate personal conduct as a boy. In reality, I don’t want to post anything that would embarrass my wife, my children or my grandson, either. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a few minutes to think about how my post jives with this filter before I press "Send." I have to admit, I’ve thankfully deleted a post or two after running it through the “Mom” filter.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pausing before sending. It only takes a few seconds to make sure that what I’m about to share with the world represents what I really feel and not my reaction to the heat of the moment. I wish some of my friends on social media would do the same.

For me, positive brand impressions start with your values and how you act on those values in every interaction with employees, colleagues, customers and even social media. My social media filters simply remind me of the things that I’ve identified as important to me, so I don’t run off half-cocked and do something stupid. What about you?

As a main street business evangelist and marketing veteran with more than 25 years in the trenches, Ty Kiisel writes about leading people and small-business issues for lendio.com.

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