NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell became the latest example of what can go wrong with a runaway social media conversation after having his Twitter chat hijacked by trolls Tuesday. Goodell sat down for what he hoped would be a fun talk with football fans about the state of the league and the upcoming draft, but he was soon inundated by snide comments, tasteless jokes and outright insults. Some asked well-intended questions, and Goodell did his best to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing. Still, the hijacking is what people are talking about today.
Losing control of the conversation on social media can be a big problem for brands and public figures. On Monday, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Ask Me Anything session on Reddit was flooded with tough questions about politics and policy, and the final assessment was that Gov. O’Malley took a shellacking from his constituents.
Twitter chats, AMAs and other social media conversations are a great way to get in touch with people and get your brand and ideas out there. But don’t do it blindly. Your perception of your public image may not be shared by others. You have to be honest about how you are going to be received in the social space. Remember #myNYPD?
And don’t go into a social media conversation alone. Bring an experienced crisis manager along as your silent partner. This person can help you make sure that the conversation stays on point and that you don’t get caught off guard by crank comments or tough questions. They can also provide moral support while you dive into the fray.
Social media conversations are becoming an integral part of brand outreach, so it’s worth thinking about getting involved in one if you want to engage with customers. Twitter chats and AMAs often go quite well, and there is no reason to dread them. Just make sure you have your trusty crisis manager at your side during the chat. You may not need to rely on this person, but it's better to have him/her nearby than to find yourself all alone facing the angry masses.
Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell