Thursday, 12 December 2019

15 Social Media Behavior Tips Inspired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Dennis Wideman

Social Media tips from PM Justin Trudeau,
 Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Dennis Wideman

Written by Robyn T. Braley

When I speak at  conferences or do media interviews about social or traditional media behavior and performance, I can always depend on athletes, politicians, business and other leaders to provide fresh examples of bad behavior that was caught on camera or inappropriate comments discovered in their feeds.

As a communications and brand specialist, I hammer home the mantra, 

"If you don't want to see it, read it or hear it in the media, don't do it, say it, show it, write it or upload a video from your phone." 

The world recently witnessed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other NATO leaders ridiculing US President Donald Trump during a reception at Buckingham Palace. They were unaware their conversation and interactions were being recorded. The incident was soon labeled the ‘hot mike debacle!’

The group included Trudeau, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President, Emmanuel Macron, Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, and Princess Anne at a Palace reception following a full day of meetings.

A 10 second video clip went viral and the story was endlessly reported by media around the world for 3-4 days. I suspect it will be referred to for many months to come.

Do You Like Me? Really Like Me? 

It wasn’t what was said that was the problem when the President found out about it. It was the sight of this distinguished group making fun of HIM!

You see, Donald Trump gets up each morning looking for adulation. If someone else fails
to give it, he gives it to himself. He has a very high opinion of himself.

What others think is important to him. When you don’t think well of him, you are automatically put on his “enemies” list and are subject to name calling, character assassination - and worst of all - nasty Trumpisms tweeted for the world to see.

The offending video clearly shows Trudeau leading the gossip-fest punctuated by laughter at Trump’s expense. He labeled Trudeau “two-faced,’ cancelled a scheduled press conference and left the conference early to fly home.

Trudeau took the brunt of the Trump wrath only because he was the only one facing the camera. The others offered comments that couldn’t be interpreted as their backs were turned.

Instant Access to the World

We live in the age of direct access to the world through social media. What we think we are saying in private may well be recorded on a phone casually placed on a desk, a board room table or on the dash of a cab.

This may create 2 problems. First, the conversation or action may be released immediately into the world. Ever heard about Facebook Live?

A few moments of indiscretion and thoughtlessness can mean ruined reputations and brands due to a random Facebook comment, an Instagram photo, a sarcastic Tweet or revealing YouTube video can destroy you or your company!

Second, any damaging audio, video, photos or text will be online for ever. Just ask politicians running for office or professional athletes and entertainers how their careers were negatively impacted or even destroyed by social media posts made years before!

There’s A Price to Pay

The group behavior was certainly ill advised at a decorum level. But, in this case, there's more! Each country has pending trade deals that depend on Trumps endorsement to move forward in the USA. 

He is legendary for making random decisions that have nothing to do with common sense or reality. Their moments of ill-conceived chatter could cost millions - unless Trump is distracted by other issues. Like impeachment..

There are always leaders who meant exactly what they said but didn't realize it would be broadcast to the world. It’s easy to become absorbed in a conversation and get "lost" in the heat of the moment. Things are said that shouldn’t be. Beware the ‘hot mic!’

In the Bubble

I call this "Bubble Thinking." People believe, even though they know better, that they are only talking to those who share a similar view or that they can "trust" not to blab..

This also applies to making personal comments in an email or a string of text messages thinking they will remain private. They feel they can trust the journalist, friend, colleague or even strangers not to reveal things you thought were shared in private.

Just Stop Talking

A few years ago. highly respected Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary, Alberta was in Boston for a conference. Being highly responsible regarding travel expenses, he took a low-cost Lyft to his hotel.

Nenshi was caught on camera making disparaging remarks about a high charged Calgary matter. In the middle of the conversation, Nenshi made defamatory comments about the company and CEO of Uber, a Lyft competitor. The driver live-streamed the conversation on Periscope.

The Clues Were There

How did this happen? Mayor Nenshi missed obvious body language signs including the vocal tone of the driver changing. It was obvious he was performing for the camera.

The driver asked short pointed questions and was careful not to interrupt or talk over what the Mayor was saying. The driver consistently gave knowing smirks and "gotcha looks' into the camera making the clip a reality show at it's best.

Reputation Management

The incident took place several years ago and Mayor Nenshi is now completing his 3rd term. But at the time, many asked the bigger question which became a matter of reputation.

“If the Mayor revealed sensitive information and opinions about city business to a complete stranger, what else might he say and to whom?”

A Confession

I share the same personality type as Mayor Nenshi. I like to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything.

I've learned about cities I'm visiting by talking to my taxi driver on the way from the airport to my hotel. I've attended business receptions where I met complete strangers and came away with "insider" information – that probably shouldn’t have been shared.

If you are a leader, or hope to someday be one, you need to understand the risk and reward of social media and unguarded moments at live events. 

Pay Attention

The lesson here is to pay attention. If you note several people holding their phone up they are probably recording a video of your behavior. Posts of you cutting an anniversary cake are a good thing. Videos of questionable behavior or comments are not. If that's it, stop doing whatever you are doing or saying what you are saying..

A Career Destroyed

A few years ago I did a 15 minute interview with Russell Bowers on CBC radio's Daybreak Alberta which is heard throughout the province. 

NHL defenceman Denis Wideman was suspended after he cross checked a lineman during a game. He claimed an earlier body check had caused a concussed state during which he lost consciousness. He claimed he diidn't know what he was doing when he hit the lineman.   
Later, he sent texts and emails that brought into question what really happened. League investigators were able to access them and he was subsequently suspended for a lengthy period. He never recovered and his career was destroyed. Listen to the Interview 

Social Media Behavior Tips

1. Social media access is available in all places at all times for most people with a phone. Act accordingly.

2. Start personal social media channels and develop communities through posting relevant and authentic content. Shape the brand you want to be known for. .

3. Follow the relationship building formula know, like, trust and engage. If something negative happens, you’ll have an established context that presents a positive you.

4. Develop an editorial strategy that will reflect your personality and brand. Stick to it.

5. Every Tweet, Instagram, Facebook or blog post must adhere to a unified, controlled message. This will help you resist impulsive posts, shares or retweets that may be damaging now or in the future

Behavior Tips at Events 

6. Don’t talk about highly sensitive topics in public places where you might be overheard or recorded. Why do you think professional coaches of NHL, NBA, NFL, CFL or MLB coaches cover their mouths when talking to associates? The financial stakes are so high opponents hire lip reading specialists to hopefully learn strategy during unguarded moments.

7. Do not flirt, make sexual innuendos or inappropriate physical touching 

8. Control alcohol consumption at business or social functions that may impair good judgement

9. Think big picture. That fun “wild and crazy guy” dancing on the table at the company party to thunderous applause may not play well with higher management or customers viewing it in their social media feeds

10. Do not make racist, sexist, derogatory or inflammatory comments that in any way demeans others.

11. Do not exhibit harassing and bullying behavior. Just don’t!

12. Don’t make negative comments or observations about company or even opponent practices

13. Make your actions reflect your values. Treat others with respect and dignity, no matter the situation. 

14. Do not talk about politics or religion. 

15. Do the right thing, even when it hurts.

What do you Think?


Please give me your feedback below. I'd love to know what you think! 

Robyn T. Braley is a brand specialist, writer, and speaker. He is also a media commentator and Rotarian. Robyn is the President of UniMark Creative which does website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. He speaks at business conferences and also blogs about branding. 

Follow on Twitter: @RobynTBraley 

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