Social Media Magazine

Do Not Encourage Negativity (4th Extract from My Upcoming New eBook)

Posted on the 22 November 2013 by Cendrinemedia @cendrinemedia

chapter 19 of new ebook

Many of you have asked if I would be wiling to share more extracts from my upcoming new eBook. You know me, I do not like to make people wait. ;-)

I am quite pleased with the way chapter 19 looks in its third draft. I hope you will enjoy it.

As always, feel free to share your feedback in the comment section.

Golden Rule #19: Do Not Encourage Negativity

Did you watch the 2012 Summer Olympics? If so, you may have noticed the major role social media played during the two weeks. Some interesting things happened and they did not involve breaking records or winning medals – at least in the typical athletic sense.

Voula Papachristou and Michel Morganella, respectively a Greek triple jumper and a Swiss soccer player, used Twitter to share their racist views with the world. As a result, they were both expelled from their teams and the competition.

I do not know athletes competing in major events like national championships or the Olympics. However, from what I have seen in documentaries and read in articles, I am under the impression that a lot of them live in their own bubbles.

Do not read that statement as a judgment on my part. To perform the way they do, those athletes need to be sheltered from distractions. They may interact with the outside world because they have family, friends, and jobs (for some of them), but they cannot lead regular lives like us. Their days are spent training and following strict diets. And their coaching teams (and parents if they are too young) carefully monitor their every move.

One thing remains clear about the two athletes, though. When it comes to social media, the lack of awareness of the netiquette was obvious. Even if they apologized publicly, I do not think anybody will ever forget what they did.

This is only one example among many that shows how a lot of personal and corporate brands often act. They “walk around” with a sense of entitlement without realizing that audiences are a privilege rather than a given, and that what they say or do will have no impact on the way people feel about them.

Freedom of speech may be a right. But rights also come with responsibilities. It is important to understand that as an entrepreneur as well as a business owner.

To err is human, obviously. But in this day and age, some mistakes have a more damaging effect than others, especially online. As soon as you use a social media platform like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, to share your words, photos, and videos, you expose yourself to public scrutiny. The content will also eventually become attached to your brand, and held against you if need be.

There is a time and place for sharing opinions and discussing important topics. However, you must remember that your goal is to serve your audience, and not further your personal agenda.  You cannot just drop an F bomb or launch a political debate without expecting violent reactions from your followers.

Why? Let us ask Guido Barilla. The chairman of Barilla Group, the biggest pasta company in the world, recently said in an interview that ads promoting his products would never feature a gay couple. He explained that it went against the concept of “traditional family,” a concept that puts women in a crucial role (Read: women in the kitchen), and that if homosexuals felt offended by his words, they always had the option to buy and eat another brand of pasta.

Additionally, he mentioned that he had no problem with same-sex marriage. What bothered him was adoption.

When he realized his mistake and tried to apologize, it was too late, of course. People around the world had taken over Twitter with the #boicottabarilla hashtag to tell others why they would stop supporting the Barilla Group. Weeks after the incident, the hashtag is still very much alive.

The company also published an apology on its Facebook Page. Barilla reiterated that women play a central role in the family structure. He also insisted that he had nothing against gay marriage, which added more fuel to the fire.

The backlash was actually so fierce that the chairman was forced to show his face in a YouTube video in which he explained that he had learnt his lesson:

“I have heard the countless reactions around the world to my words, which have depressed and saddened me. It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family. In the coming weeks, I pledge to meet representatives of the group that best represent the evolution of the family, including those who have been offended by my words.”

Double standards divide and feed the negative beast. Whether you want it or not, you are in business to make your entire audience happy. You cannot just treat some customers differently because you feel that the way they live or what they do or think is wrong.

So, think twice before posting personal opinions or questionable content that has nothing to do with the purpose of your business, especially without warning people first. Because once you have clicked the “publish” button, there is no coming back.

Would you like to read more extracts from my upcoming new eBook? Visit this page.  

Don’t forget to check the #smstrategychat hashtag on Twitter for regular updates. I also welcome your feedback and questions there.

Looking for tips to attract quality traffic to your blog? Check out The Little Big eBook on Blogging: 40 Traffic Generation Tips.

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