In September 2015, actress Viola Davis won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in How to Get Away with Murder. She is the first African-American to win this award. During her acceptance speech, she touched upon the lack of opportunities for women of color.
By most accounts, it was a “poignant, emotional, and empowering” acceptance.
But not for General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn, who took to Twitter to repeatedly criticize Davis for bringing race into her speech.
The backlash against Grahn was swift and harsh. She subsequently back-pedaled, deleting some Tweets and repeatedly apologizing.
As a business or entrepreneur, you never want to find yourself in that position.
The Price of Alienation
Social media moves quickly. Most anyone can be involved with it and, well…many are: Facebook alone has 1.1 billion active users. It’s active 24 hours a day, including weekends and, except for some extreme views, you can say pretty much anything you want.
That doesn’t mean you should.
As an individual, you can survive being “unfriended” or “unfollowed” on social media. As a business, social media offers you a unique (well, not so unique anymore) opportunity to communicate with your audience in a more direct way. However, when you post things that bring you negative attention, you will be alienated by the public and that can cost you business.
Here are some ways to avoid such things from happening:
Politics and Religion
If you’re in politics or religion, then this article doesn’t apply to you. However, if you’re in business, stay out of touchy subjects. Before the existence of social media, many people had already learned that religion and politics are the two subjects you should never bring up at the dinner table. They are charged areas for most people and conversations on these topics often turn into disagreements.
However, what’s political for one kind of business may not be for another. For instance, “gun rights” is a common subject for gun dealers. But if you’re in the web development business, you can expect that your pro or anti-handgun views are going to rub some of your customers the wrong way. That’s what happened with a particular online chef, who often posts his views on Facebook:
“I used to follow you as I enjoyed your vids. However, now I know that you’re just another paranoid American that is obsessed about guns and the false sense of security you get from them.”
She unfriended him and unsubscribed from his YouTube channel.
Know What You’re Talking About
Back in September 2015, those horrid videos of NFL star, Ray Rice abusing his wife began to surface. In response, women told their own stories of physical abuse on Twitter. These stories began trending with the hashtag “#WhyIStayed,” as they explained why they had stayed together with their abuser.
The social media person at DiGiorno Pizza must have noticed this trend and, in an attempt to capitalize on it to sell some pizza, tweeted: “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”
Obviously, this person didn’t bother to see what the stories were about that were driving the trending hashtag. Oops.
Social media authority and speaker Krista Neher was quoted on the incident: “Never use words when you don’t know what they mean. This isn’t even social media advice. It’s life advice.”
Wait. Cool Off.
If you’re angry or disgruntled about something and feel like expressing yourself on social media …
There honestly isn’t anything so urgent that it must be posted right now, especially something negative. Honestly, you’re probably not helping anyone by posting bitterness, anger, or sarcasm.
A 2015 study of Twitter users showed that, while negative content (violence, dire political projections, terrorism, etc.) spread faster than others, users actually preferred positive content.
A January 2013 Facebook analysis of three million user posts found that users became less engaged when the majority of the content on their feed was negative.
So, if you can’t post anything nice, you are better off not posting anything at all.
Be Positive. Give Value
Similar to the last section, it pays to be positive. Dan Zarella of Hubspot, in reviewing the 2015 Twitter data, found that people with a greater number of followers have less negative content in their tweets.
So, it would mean that to get more followers, you must deliver more positive content in your tweets. One way to do that is to provide value to your audience.
What is valuable content? One of the best definitions ever comes from Braveen Kumar of Uberflip.com, who defines valuable content as anything that is relevant, consistent, engaging, trustworthy, useful, and authentic.
If your company sells insurance or does wedding planning, people are following you on social media to get information about those topics. That’s valuable content for them. Hence, talking dog videos would not be considered significant.
Be kind, helpful, and positive, and you will develop and enjoy good public relations with your customers.