Losing The Nuance…

Full disclosure, the headline of this post was stolen from Mike Greenberg this morning on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, but it is very true. Thursday into Friday we have again seen the power and buzz, and the silliness generated by the immediacy of social media. We again see that maybe social media isn’t for everyone, it can be a distraction and can cause the participants and others around them lots of unneeded stress. It also again brings up the question of how and who can help folks best manage their messages and get information out in a timely fashion.

Thursday unfolded with great promise and anticipation for both the media and fans with regard to the NFL Lockout. The owners announced a positive vote on the deal, with the players still having to vote and be presented with the details to bring full closure to the labor standoff. Then as the day unfolded, a huge amount of players took to their own space, the social media world, to voice their opinions on what they had “heard.” The information came from sources, most of which were unnamed, and were not in full detail, but many of the posts on Twitter were full of disdain and disappointment. Most were put forth well in advance of being briefed fully…the NFLPA did not fully communicate with their players until much later into the evening…when the union reps were able to fully go through the proposed deal and could offer an informed, balanced and well thought out communique. Player head DeMaurice Smith held his tongue, and although his “body language” portrayed disappointment at first, his thoughts were not spelled out ad hoc.

As the evening went on many of the players who were so filled with vitriol earlier in the day recanted, and took more of a wait and see attitude once they heard from their player reps. What the immediate rush to judgment did was cause confusion and distraction for the decision makers, and probably extended the process, and the fans disappointment, just a but further. The good news is that the PA did communicate in a proper and time efficient manner with its constituents, and the confusing news cycle of disdain was shortened. What the exercise did point out were again the simple rules for using social media.

1- Think before you hit send. If you are a public or nonpublic figure, don’t use social media as a self-serving way to vet your opinion to the world, unless it is what you really believe and are sure that is what you want to say. Make smart, informed decisions. Spew does no one any good.

2- If you send it, it doesn’t come back. Hitting delete after something has gone viral will not change the cycle, and the time one spends trying to retract and correct could be saved if you just think before you act.

3- Not everyone has to have an opinion every time. Sometimes it’s not about you, and it is better listening and making sure you have the facts before you speak. We have two ears and one mouth (and ten fingers to type with, but that’s another story), so LISTEN twice more than you speak. Now maybe you feel like you really need to have a voice, that’s great. Just make sure the voice is right and is in the proper, well informed context, especially when dealing with a very public issue.

4- Losing The Nuance. The written word, especially in social media, loses much of it’s context. Jokes are not funny, thoughts that were lighthearted can get misconstrued and most people don’t have the benefit of the background that you have. Posting off missives may seem fun and interesting, but a little mistake can cause a lot of damage. Calling someone can convey thought and ideas mush better than a series of random characters.

5- You Don’t have To Do It Just Because “Everybody” Is: It seems like more and more people are taking to social media to define and grow their “brand,” whatever that brand is. However a social media platform, like any other part of brand development, is not a “must do” for people that are not interested or equipped to do it. Many pitchers can’t hit, many actors can’t sing, many salesman cannot write, many writers cannot balance a checkbook. Know your limitations, understand the space and then listen to informed people, professionals, who can effectively advise you as to what works for your business or your brand. It is not for everyone, and not everyone needs social media to be successful. Speak when you really have something to say, not because everyone else does.

There was a story this week that University of New Mexico head men’s hoops coach Steve Alford has banned his players from using social media. While that may be extreme…it should be an informed, personal choice…it is probably well weighed out by the administration, and the “rush to post syndrome” will be avoided by the Lobos. It won’t make social media around the team go away at all…but it may help avoid the confusion and distraction provided by some who wanted to be first and be emotional, as opposed to being informed.