Is there Rehab for Stupid?
Reputation Management Basics
Did you think I would wait this long to put in my two cents on this Weinergate situation?
Disclaimer. This is not intended to be a personal moral or particularly judgemental blogpost. It’s not my job as a social media strategist to judge whether you are a good person or bad person. It’s my job to judge whether your BUSINESS or BRAND will be perceived as a good business or bad business.
Two weeks before Weinergate was revealed I attended a presentation on reputation management on social media given by the Social Media Swami himself Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions at Blogworld NYC. He covered everything you could possibly want to know about getting your brand, which hopefully already practices basic social media common sense, out there even further. Great beginner to advanced info and even without Sashi’s verbal input along it, I suggest you take a look at the slideshare.
At the end of the presentation, Mr. Bellamkonda asked if there were any questions to the crowd of maybe 150 people. Nobody got up, and I had one, so I asked essentially the following: “You’re a guy. Is there some special way to tell male clients that they ARE who they FOLLOW and who they engage with online? You are who you tweet. I have had situations where they engage with porn people and bathing suit model types. I believe they are hurting their brand”. Mr. Bellamkonda didn’t quite understand the question, probably because he is not accustomed to dealing with this type of situation at Network Solutions. BUT THE AUDIENCE understood the question just fine.
Here were some of the suggestions
* If he/she is a client and continues to follow and engage with these types either fire the client or continue to take his money, much as a lawyer would for a client that Is guilty. Make it clear that this client will hurt his social media success with this behavior.
* Helpful hint: If he/she follows or engages with anybody his wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend would not appreciate, then that’s a signal he shouldn’t engage with that person.
*If he/she feels he must use the Internet to “whore around” as one male audience member called it later to me privately, the respectable thing would be to do it under an account without his name or business name on the account or an Internet dating site.
Note: I don’t prescribe to this remedy as I have seen so-called secret accounts “outed” while on twitter. There are no secrets on social media.
I’m no psychologist, but I think it’s people who need to have their ego fed who engage in this type of behavior –men and women alike. Ask yourself who you want as brand advocates, sleazy people or smart people. As a woman, to me the women who engage in this kind of behavior are essentially delivering a slap in the face to those of us who dislike being treated as objects and actually get paid to use our brain. What is the payoff to your business by engaging these types of people? How do you even know they are real people? Do you think nobody is watching? Everybody is watching.
The question is, is it worth your ego and potential damage to your business to carry on in this way?
To most of us, managing our reputation really boils down to behaving the same online the way we do offline, assuming one is behaving correctly offline, and then broadcasting our message and brand to the world. It amazes me those people and businesses who falsely believe that their behavior is somehow *invisible* on the Internet. They need to wake up and realize that their behaviour is in fact magnified. They write down the behaviour. They put risqué pictures on the Internet. It does not magically disappear.
One of my first personal experiences with this was about a year ago before I officially became a social media advisor with Killer Social and Socialisle. One day I noticed I had a new follower on my jewelry account that was a local Long Islander. A man in his 40s, about my age. I noticed that MY avatar in his “who else I follow” section on in the old twitter app that used to show pictures of all recent follows was surrounded by several porn star and bathing suit escort types. His background picture was of his family, including his young children.
I wondered – did he think I was one of THEM? Surely he did, even though I never have any below the neck or risqué avatars. What kind of person was this? I felt insulted.
This appeared to be the man’s business account and he claimed to be in the social media biz in his bio. With no further ado, I pleasantly privately informed this man in DM that because he was a local, I was giving him the following info nicely instead of just blocking. The images of me surrounded by porn girls over the image of his family was very disturbing to me. Unfollow me immediately. I gave him no option to reply as I don’t believe I ever followed him. He complied and in addition I noticed he was smart enough to clean up his act, eventually unfollowing the porn people and following the ones he actually wanted to do business with.
Some people are not that smart.
I have had less pleasant experiences with clients and people I have followed for quite some time who start to exhibit the same behavior. I say something. They feel they are being judged by me. I think I’m doing them a favor by stating the obvious. If you saw that a friend had a flat tire, would you let him go out and drive 75 on the freeway? No. You’d tell him to repair his tire before he got hurt.
I’m not saying it’s just the men who behave this way either. Some of the women are worse. I don’t think Rep. Weiner has done anything that millions of people aren’t already doing. Personally, I don’t think he should lose his job over it. It’s enough that he has to deal with the negative consequences his behaviour will have to his career and his relationship. Hopefully his experience will help others and maybe his rehab will help.
Just remember folks, there is no rehab for stupid.
What do you think about this situation? Let’s talk about it. Leave your comments below.