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Why Tweets About Obese Doctors Are Never Your Own

 

“All tweets are my own.”

That’s the most dangerous thing you could ever say in social media. I see it in social bio’s all the time. Heck, a lot of companies make it a policy that if you’re going to be on social media, you must use a disclaimer so that everybody knows whatever you say is not official word from “the” corporation. Like, you taking a pic of your chicken noodle soup isn’t endorsed by Acme Corp.

“All tweets are my own and not a reflection of my employer.”

Companies have handled this all wrong. Your employees are a reflection of your company. End of story.

As an example, look what was tweeted a few days ago:

Since he added the #truth hashtag, he is really wanting you to know that this is so true!

Your first reaction is “Who is this jackass?” so you go and look at his bio:

After you get over the awesome irony that he’s a psych prof, you now start to question the PhD selection process at NYU and U New Mexico. Right?

Then he starts getting some slack and starts the process the Internet Geekalanche Recovery:

 

Step 1: Initial half-ass apology:

“Obviously”

As you can see, it’s going over smashingly well with the audience.

 

Step 2: The “Oh crap, this is really taking off” apology

Realize that upsetting geeks, obese people or anyone that isn’t a Prof at NYU named Miller, he tries:

Wait what? He used the #truth tag?!?!?!!?! Is there no integrity in the #truth tag anymore?!??!

I’ve translated this tweet for you: “My sincere apologies to my boss, who is now reading this thing that they refer to as “Tweezer”. It does reflect my true views, values and standards. That’s why I used the #truth tag baby!”

 

Step 3: SHUT IT DOWN!!!! SHUT IT DOWN!!!!

He makes his account private, since the #truth hurts.

 

Step 4: Blame hackers/virus/research

Usually saved for mis-sent pictures of a person’s crotch, people run to the “I WAS HACKED! ZOMG!” when they’re put in the corner. Professor Miller takes a new route of the scapegoat Step 4, and says it was “for research”!

“He told her that his com­ment on Twit­ter was part of a research project. We are look­ing into the valid­ity of this asser­tion.”

Read the full fall-out article here (and thanks to my man Steve for giving me the heads-up on all of this)

 

Step 5: Start a private research lab to discuss the consequences of telling obese people they have no will-power.

Ok, still waiting on Step 5, but you get the point.

 

Now, the entire point of all the previous roller-coaster is to ask you this question:

If he had a disclaimer in his bio “All tweets are my own.” would that have changed any of this?

Not one bit.

Those employee disclaimers hurt more than they help actually, since it gives people the false sense of freedom of social media speech.

If you disclose where you work, you’re wearing that name badge 24/7 online. Even if you don’t disclose, you’re just a LinkedIn search away from being outed.

If you’re going to make employees put a disclaimer in their bio, make it this:

“All tweets are my own and a proud reflection of my employer, because we are the brand.”

 

 

  • I remember seeing that tweet and was like, “Huh? Is he for real?” It’s funny, but it’s really not. Guess even PhDs can lose contact with their brains. Thanks for sharing this clusterf*# with the rest of us. Hope a few poor souls learn something.

    • Kashif Khan

      I guess PhDs lose contact with their brains more often than the rest of us. BTW, I plan to join PhDs and experience “losing contact” soon :).

  • Julane Burdo Johnson

    NASCAR driver, Kurt Busch, has been fired from several teams in recent years for his rants, though verbal. As apology for one particular rant, the “comments are my own and not the team/owner” excuse came up. Counterpoints by journalists were made saying that whilst you are wearing that logo, you DO represent the team.

  • Oh my! Looks like my unwritten book “My Big Fat Social Media” needs to be published sooner than later.

    The subtitle may or may not be “These Aren’t The Tweets You’re Looking For”

  • Good point, Scott,. Your tweets are not your own, and never should they be.

  • Awesome. It’s so true, employees are the public face of your business whether you are at work or not.

    Sometimes they show us the great humanity of a mega corp (like in the case of lost teddy bears) and sometimes they show us they care less about their corporate image then our customers.

    As a consumer this leads to taking business elsewhere, as an event organizer telling a sponsor to keep their cash, and as an employee wondering if I have ever caused the same reaction.

  • theworldofmarla

    Geoffrey Miller seems to have the willpower to avoid sticking carbs in his mouth because his foot is already there.

  • AVDawn

    Employees absolutely are the face of the company, even ‘in their own time’ or ‘on social media.’ Sadly, it is usually the ones with the biggest mouths or worst manners who are most proud to flaunt their corporate affiliation. At one of my former jobs, we had one employee who was utterly inappropriate and socially inept, but he insisted on wearing company-logo’d shirts as often as possible… and we’d hear horrible things back in the office about his behavior. I once quipped, “Gee, I wish we could get him to wear X’s shirts instead of ours…” where X was our main rival company!

  • Matt Scott

    “Never take motivational advice from an overweight person!” I heard a famous sales trainer Tom Hopkins say this and well it does make some sense. I should lose about 40 pounds myself so I guess I will just motivate who matters most ME…

    • Tommy

      I know. It didn’t work for Oprah at all.

  • Stephen

    This is why I love coming to this blog… another great real life example of what not to do.

  • It’s social media. It’s public. (Otherwise it would be called private media…) Which is why we tell our kids not to post comments they wouldn’t want their grandmother’s to read. Or their future employers. Don’t think he’ll be getting any new professorship offers anytime soon…

  • MaxKalles

    A great reminder that self control in one area of our lives doesn’t mean we have it in another. Maybe his weight is under control but his mouth is not. Thanks for sharing this lesson on thinking before you post with social media, and the point is well taken that all employees represent your brand for good or for bad.

  • georgeATgeekbabyclothes

    I have a gland disorder. You bastard. #notQUITEtruth

  • Does anyone else find these lessons just as much entertaining as enlightening? So sorry someone unnecessarily made themselves look completely stupid but hey, without these examples how would the rest of us learn? The hard way? No thanks. (At least… not anymore, please!)

  • BTRIPP

    “Is there no integrity in the #truth tag anymore?!??!” … HILARIOUS! (#truth)

  • Katherine Bull

    Let me get this straight..A psychologist says something completely offensive and then says it doesn’t reflect what he really believes and thinks? Hmmm…I think he needs to go back to school and re-take the class on Freud.

    • RvLeshrac

      Freud was discredited a good 30 years ago.

      • Duncan Connor

        And yet there are still Freudians out there. And when I say “out” I don’t mean gay, and when I say “out there” I don’t mean on the hippy fringes, I simply mean they’re abroad. And when I say “abroad” I don’t mean exclusively in other countries, I mean they they can be found in many places.
        There, I think that’s all my id/ego bases covered. Penis.
        Dammit!

  • Felicia Slattery

    This comment is all my own and does not represent the views of anyone else on the Internet or IRL who ever existed or ever will exist again.

    Once again, this guy proves humor does not come across well in social media, unless it’s expected of you and even then… tread carefully.

    PS This post rocks.

    #truth

  • king of sales

    Scott – EXCELLENT insight and #truth about the idiocy and hypocrisy of apologies after the fact – gitomer – bu the way, all tweets are my own :))

  • king of sales

    Scott – EXCELLENT insight and #truth about the idiocy and hypocrisy of apologies after the fact – gitomer – bu the way, all tweets are my own :))

  • I could not agree more. Having a cop out disclaimer is pretty much BS.You need to be accountable for what you say online (and off) Just stop and think before you post anything

  • tishpiper

    This was AWESOME. I’d prefer if people listed demonic possession as the source of his/her tweets in the bio section.

  • Nothing beats Mike Monteiro’s Twitter bio (@mike_FTW):

    “This is a personal account and does not reflect the opinions of my boss, who is an asshole.”

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  • JL

    At a recent SM conference for health care, we talked about a doc who criticised surgeons at a particular hospital for their skills in a particular surgery on Twitter. Did not go down so well.

  • I think Wil Wheaton says it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTtlwzyuMzE

    How employers got it into their minds that “just do what you want, don’t let it get back to the company” and “NEIN FACEBOOK ZHE IS VERBOTEN!” are the only two options, I’ll never know. But it’s a damn good reason I started my own business – among other things.

    I also don’t know how companies don’t just own their mistakes. Everybody – and I mean everybody – says stupid stuff or has a bad day and vents… apologize, own it, and move on. Don’t give us reason to point and laugh.

  • D Link

    Excellent example of how social media can shape public discourse. But I hope too much caution does not suppress discussion altogether in the name of political/business correctness. If we all decide we should never share an unguarded opinion, we’ll all end up silent, and our own misguided stupidity will go unchallenged. Just look at talk radio for an example of how blaring ignorance of the mind can intensify when unchallenged. I’m glad he put this tweet out there. He was forced to really think about his attitudes and pride. I have responsibility to my employer yes; for instance, not to lick tacos. But at the same time, I need to be free to express myself and thereby evolve my thinking through the unique opportunity to engage online. Thanks for sharing this Scott!

  • Do PhD applicants not have a sense of humor?

  • Marie A

    Certainly this is jackassery, but I do worry that, if we feel that we’re “representing our employers” 24/7, we must never say anything, ever, that could be construed as controversial. Once again, I’m not talking about this guy, he’s clearly an idiot. But a better example might be: “I’m sick of all the racist bullc#%!p over a damn Cheerios commercial! #truth” and then racist bullcrappers start a Twittercott over it.

    We’re all good with that (I hope), right? But if you were the Chief Social Media Interfaddle, you probably wouldn’t ever Tweet something like that, regardless of its correctness. You’re always going to play it safe like, “Look! A squirrel! I love squirrels! ‘Tho they’re flying rats! Nature!?! Wassup!”

    My point: It’s not always simple. Except in the case of obvious jackassery, like this guy. C’mon!

    • Marie A

      To clarify, when I say, “We’re all good with that” I mean, posting a Tweet that decries racism. Not good with boycotting a company that decries racism.

      Oh, editing, you defy me.

  • Changing my Twitter bio now:

    “This is a personal account and reflects the opinions of Scott Stratten. I regret if he offends you. Hit him up at @unmarketing”

  • RvLeshrac

    You’re right: Once you work for a company, they own you and everything you do. You’re a slave, and are never allowed to enjoy any aspect of private life. They should be allowed to terminate you for any and all behaviour that they deem offensive.

    That’s why we have laws that say you’re allowed to fire people for their religious or political views, right? I mean, those are a deep reflection on your company, so why shouldn’t companies be allowed to fire you because you’re jewish or a Republican? Maybe they don’t want to hire an Indian because it would give the impression that they outsource.

  • trixietime

    In terms of corporate social media, there is this concept that I can’t seem to understand. Companies seem to use interns or the lowest paid, or even outsourced workers, to handle their social media.

    Regarding that guy, well, while what he tweeted was putrid, it was his personal account, where people like that fail is by listing their job info. He was not tweeting in a professional capacity, but he’s associated with them. It would be no different than someone walking into a restaurant and becoming belligerent while wearing a company t-shirt and paying with a company credit card.

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  • Rona McLean

    As much as we don’t want to admit it, freedom of speech has it’s problems. Nothing is more powerful than living what you represent/speak, and then you are taken more seriously. That’s just the way of our human nature. Nothing is going to change that.
    https://www.empowernetwork.com/successwithrbm/?p=49

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  • KeithDAndrade

    Should it matter that your employer could possibly see your tweet? Why be a d-bag (And I hate that freaking word, but it works here) online? There’s enough of them around. Shouldn’t we care that people we know will be seeing what we share? Unless your whole family and all your friends are massive tools, you’re likely to offend someone you know by posting crap. I’m now officially “Ranting” so I’m out. Great post Scott.

  • Duncan Connor

    I think that there’s a graph to be made here..everyday workers with little or no responsibility can do pretty much whatever they like without it reflecting on the company — they’re just not that under the microscope unless they do something insane.
    The higher profile the employee, the less they can get away with, since they’re much more likely to have input into decision-making and direction setting at the company — they’re more responsible for the brand as individuals. Now, if all those bottom of the totem people banded together and did something stupid, that would also be bad.
    I think it comes down to the notion that if you are a leader, or have aspirations to be one, then behave like one. It’s not difficult.

    • It’s also a question of individual VS brand impact. A worker licking taco’s gets them fired, and we move on. But it’s a big impact to that employee.

  • This is interesting

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  • Oh My God
    Really useful articles and many new tips.

    Thank You

    SAP Education.

  • Just another case for companies to have social media policies in place. There should be guidelines as to what employees can post regarding work on both company social media sites as well as their personal ones. Whatever you put out there is going to be seen by someone, you’ll want to make sure that it is a good reflection of you and everything you are associated with.

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  • Janet

    Now I want to see a graph with PhD completion rates on one axis, and BMI on the other.

  • ethan jose
  • Dave Shirley

    Good Article and Comments, I guess we need to watch a little closer what we post or twitter.
    Dave
    http://www.DaveShirleyBlog.com

  • Imran Ali

    I don’t think he meant any harm by it and I think it was only meant as a joke. Some people take it too far…

  • Carolina Millan

    I’m using this on a presentation tomorrow, it’s such a good example of the “tweets are my own” nonsense. I love quoting you when I speak publicly lol.

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  • Holly McIlwain

    Scott, thank you for the insight into a question I’ve grappled with recently regarding the on line persona created through social media of our owners and employees. Your example perfectly illustrates your point and the last line, …”because we are the brand,” is perfect. I love it. Thanks Y’all.

  • taswyn

    It’s very simple: context.

    Does a “reasonable” interpretation of what you’re saying and in turn the inferred context of what you’re saying reflect back on your professional work?

    For one thing, you can NOT escape the fact that people will assume this reflects your behavior at work, and how you conduct your business. If so, it’s also going to have implications regarding your employer. If you explicitly have made the context work-related, that goes double. At the least.

    Is it possible to separate personal from professional? DEFINITELY. It’s possible to compartmentalize aspects of each. But if something is not a meta schema of yours that applies to both, don’t BROADCAST it on the widest net possible, where it’s easy to infer that in your case on that topic, it DOES apply to both. All of this can be covered even before we touch on the topic of “jokes” people use as a cover for being as insulting as possible at someone else’s cost, all because calling it a “joke” is somehow supposed to be an automatic parachute from the consequence of their own words.

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