The theme this month is the blurred lines between our home and work as we all shelter from the pandemic. A blur that’s also been happening in our social media lives. So, in the month that saw outspoken marketing commentator Tom Goodwin relieved of his duties at Publicis for sharing on social media content that wasn’t to his employer’s taste, we asked Robert Rose, Chief Trouble Maker at The Content Advisory for his take and his advice for employees and marketing leaders.

In today’s world, if you choose to engage in social media, you get all the benefits and risks of being in…. well… the media. And, it’s not “if”, it’s “when” it will affect you.

Any person has the chance – Andy Warhol might argue “is destined” – to have a post go viral, or become a personality for some period of time. Inevitably this means that either you, someone in your employ, or your company will be, as Paul Simon sang in The Boy In The Bubble – part of every generation that “throws a hero up the pop charts”.

So – the only answer is to be aware of it, and prepared; much like we keep that kit in the back of our car for the accident we hope will never happen.

Publicis pulled the car over, and yanked out the kit. They have every right to sack Tom Goodwin for his creation of public media, as the Facebook employees who are quitting because of the company’s inaction on the US President’s posts. 

Posting a “these views don’t represent the view of my employer” doesn’t mean anything.  It would be the equivalent of a company saying, the views of our CEO don’t reflect the views of our employees.  But when was the last time you saw that on the front page of a company’s web site?

From an individual perspective, prepared means living with the consequences of your opinions and being intentional about where you express them. For example, I choose purposely to NOT voice many opinions – at all – about politics on my public social media. But I participate in many private forums where I engage vigorously. However, those that I DO choose to express publicly – I am willing to go to bat for. In other words, if a client, or someone wants to NOT do business with me because of something I’ve said on Social Media, it will be something that I damn sure am willing to stand behind. 

So – maybe Tom was willing to be fired for holding the opinions he did and voicing them as vociferously as he did. But the one thing that he shouldn’t be is surprised that there are may be unfortunate consequences. 

As a team leader – the only thing I expect from team members, or influencers we bring to bear is that they (and we) are prepared. Setting clear expectations is all you can do.

Ultimately it’s their story. They can tell it as they choose. They just need to understand that we are not obliged to be part of it. 

Ready to rock?

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