Andy Warhol wrote, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Few can argue the future is here. On Friday night, 20/20 profiled a North Carolina Dad who responded to his daughter’s mean and inappropriate Facebook post by videotaping himself putting eight bullets into her laptop (to his credit, in an empty field with no children present.) Not so much to his credit, he posted the video on YouTube. My heart goes out to the girl – her Facebook comment was awful, but her 15-year old brain could not have comprehended the ramifications of the rant. Unfortunately, don’t think Dad did either. Maybe a publicity stunt? No way to tell. But, a quick Google search showed more than 47M hits – many in major media outlets. 20/20 at the door. If future employers or college admissions officers search, they will find her.
What’s the lesson for communicators? We know anyone with an Internet connection can become famous. We know there is no way to fully control an organization’s external communications. And, we know the poor decisions of a few can alter public perception of the many who work hard and deliver value, as the General Service Administration unfortunately found when an unflattering employee video shot in Vegas surfaced recently. This said – a little (on-going) education can go a long way. Five thoughts:
- Every one of your employees is a spokesperson. Hire carefully and train frequently
- Communicate “shared success.” Every employee should understand how external perceptions of their organization directly support their own success – sink or swim together
- Keep an ear to the ground. Use social media monitoring tools to ensure you know about an issue before it garners 47M hits on Google
- Respond quickly, then fix the problem. Customers often complain on social media because traditional customer service channels have failed
- Be a good citizen. Social media gives your organization the chance to educate. Create a plan and build thought leadership