(This article is first published on Singapore Business Review)
With immediate effect, Ms Amy Cheong, the former Assistant Director of NTUC membership division, was fired from her job, for her hateful and disrespectful Facebook posts with regards to Malay void deck weddings.
Her posts on Sunday afternoon are quick to anger the public, both the Malay and the Non-Malay in Singapore.
Furious petitions for her job termination are then virally intensified on social media, leading her former employer to sack her on the following Monday.
That’s the power of social media. At a super fast speed, social media can lift up a brand or a person; and on the other hand, it can also “destroy” a brand or a person, completely.
Here are the 7 things we could learn from this episode:
1. Respect your audience
Social media communication is like looking at your reflection on the mirror; when you smile, your reflection smiles back at you. If you make a rude remark, your reflection will curse back at you too. Hence, the bottom line is, always treat your audience with a lot of respect on social media so that you will also earn the respect from others as well.
2. Be fundamentally correct
Be fundamentally correct in all the things you do. Your social media behavior somewhat tells people a lot about your attitude, your thinking and all the actions you do in life.
If all along, in your daily life, you have been doing and saying the things correctly without holding any prejudice or hatred against anyone, any brand or any society, you shouldn’t be worrying too much about making mistakes on social media. This is because from the start, you don’t have any intention to bring down anybody at all.
3. Everyone is becoming their own brand now
Social media makes you becoming your own brand. Your friends and the public will have the perceived image of you, your character and your credibility from all your posts, your pictures and video links on social media.
Some people may argue that they are a completely different person in social media than what they are in their daily life. However, it does not mean that, they could offend anybody or any group just like that by saying what they like.
Just remember this. Now, you are consistently representing a brand called, “ME”, in social media. Like it or not, you have to be responsible for that.
4. Refrain from touchy issues
Determine the content that you want to share on social media; you could share things about your personal life stories, your pictures, your opinion, articles, jokes, videos, websites or any other things under the sun that you find it interesting to tell the world.
However, try to refrain from sharing negative things such as hate speech, spam, untruth or any other sensitive remarks against any person, brand or society.
5. Don’t be too defensive
At times, while you are doing things correctly on social media, you might also encounter some negative untrue comments about you or your company. However, try not to be too defensive.
Being defensive on social media, will make things worse and it will further aggravate your credibility. What you should do is to, quickly delete the posts, ban the users, mark them as spam and report their violation to the administrator.
6. Apologizing may not always help
What has been done is done and what has been said is said. You can’t turn back the clock to undo all the things that you have said and done on social media.
Moreover, apologizing may not work if the things you have said and done, are seriously heavy such that they are not easy to be forgiven immediately.
So, reflect on your mistakes and let time heals.
7. Think before you act
Always think before you even click that “Post” button on your Facebook page or that “Tweet” button on your Twitter.
“Think before you Act” is one of the oldest sayings we probably have heard it from our parents long time ago when we made mistakes while we were young. This saying is so much true today especially when things are getting around so fast and speedy with social media.
Last but not least, I wish to end my sharing with a quote from Jeff Bezos, the CEO at Amazon.com, on public expectation of your brand in today’s internet age.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”