Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Tony Robbins misquotes Gandhi, ignores the error and keeps on Tweeting

May 3, 2012

Not long ago I offered advice on dealing with social media mistakes.  Then I happened across this Tweet from Tony Robbins:

If you are one of the most famous speakers in the world,  it is probably a good idea to quote Gandhi.  Except this quote most likely isn’t from Gandhi.  In fact it first appeared in the book “Documentary History of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America” on page 53:

First they ignore you.  Then they ridicule you.  And then they attack you and want to burn you.  And then they build monuments to you.

Whoopsie.  So I did Mr. Robbins a favor and told him about his error (with my added commentary):

First reply to Tony Robbins on Twitter

And then this a day later:

I have sent Mr. Robbins several Tweets about this. So far he hasn’t responded. (Some of his followers are responding to me, however, asking about the source of the quote.)

To review, we have at least three social media faux pas, and one assumed one:

(1) Misquote one of the most influential people who ever lived (not so bad, because everyone makes mistakes.)

(2) Ignore people who identify the error (much bigger mistake.)

(3) Carry on without acknowledging or correcting the error (much, much bigger mistake.)

And the assumed fourth faux pas:

(4) Outsource your social media without understanding what you are trying to achieve (humongous mistake.)

In the grand scheme of things, I guess misquoting Gandhi isn’t going to harm his reputation.  But what happens when he, or his staff, sends an unintentionally controversial Tweet?  He will be held accountable, even if he didn’t actually say it!  This could harm his credibility and cost him money.

We can learn a lot from this episode:

(1) If you outsource your social media, you should trust the person speaking on your behalf.

(2) Periodically review your content to ensure consistency.

(3) If someone contacts you on social media, especially about a mistake, respond to them.

(4) If you make a mistake, own up to it.

(5) Nobody is immune in this social age, including Tony Robbins.  Even Bank of America had to back down because of Twitter.  Seriously.

(6) Think hard about using social media or you run the risk of harming your reputation.

(7) People are paying attention to what you say, a necessary consequence of being on social media.

As a side note: if I am wrong and Gandhi did say this, I will acknowledge my error, publicly apologize to Mr. Robbins and my social media community.  Until then, I’m still waiting.  And Tweeting.

PS:  In my initial Tweet to Mr. Robbins I wrongly stated the year was 1914.  The correct year is 1918.  Sorry about that, I will try to be more careful next time.

PPS:  See how that works?


How to handle mistakes on social media

March 22, 2012

We’re all human.  As such we make mistakes.  But when we make a mistake on social media, it is out there forever and it cannot be undone.  This can be very, very scary for some, and it keeps many people on the sidelines and away from Facebook or Twitter.

Some mistakes are bigger than others.  Take McDonald’s for example.  They started a social media campaign about McD stories which quickly got away from them and made them look pretty stupid.

But the potential for making a mistake should not deter you from using social media. Indeed you could actually turn a mistake into a strategic advantage.

Here’s one way to handle a social media mess-up:

  1. DO NOT HIT DELETE.  Remember, this stuff is out there forever. If you do delete it, someone will dig it up and throw it back in your face, making the situation even worse.  So resist the urge to click delete.
  2. Address the issue.  If you make a mistake, own up to it and quickly apologize to all offended parties.
  3. Learn from it.  Once is a mistake, twice is a habit.  Learn from your mistake and incorporate what you learned into your social media strategy.
  4. Blog about it.  Yup, you read that right.  If you make a mistake, share what you’ve learned and use it as an opportunity to connect with your audience.  While you’re at it, offer concrete recommendations on how others can avoid making similar mistakes.

With this approach, you can create critical thought leadership and offer compelling content for your audience.  In fact a mistake could turn a negative situation into a positive one and improve your reputation.

One final point: don’t let the fear of making mistakes deter you from using Facebook or Twitter.  Instead, use these challenges as teachable moments so we can all benefit from your errors.

In the long run you will benefit with an improved reputation, greater wisdom and a more socially engaged company.

Social Media Overload

February 29, 2012

Facebook.  Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Google Plus.  Pinterest.  Meetup.  Yelp.  WordPress.  Blogger.  Bitly.  Plurk.  Tumblr.  Plaxo.  Klout.


It’s easy to experience social media overload.  Even though I have been using social media tools for some eight years now, I still feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications out there.  Indeed Wikipedia lists over 200 “major active social networking websites.”

But what can you do?  If you decide to ignore social media, you are removing yourself from the real-time global conversations taking place, conversations which are happening with or without your participation.

So how do you decide which tool(s) to use?  While one cannot possibly use every social media tool out there, I’ll give you the same recommendation I give to my clients:

(1) Create a Facebook profile and connect with people you know.

(2) Get on LinkedIn, connect with colleagues and join a few groups that are relevant to their lives.

(3) Hop on Twitter and follow people you find interesting.

(4) Say nothing.

That’s right, don’t say a thing.  Instead, spend just a few hours a week listening to conversations.  Get a feel for how the applications work.  See what other people are saying.  Maybe ask a question and see what happens.  That way, you don’t have to worry about doing something right or wrong.  You are just listening!

Once you begin to understand how the tools work, then you can make a wise decision on which application(s) to use. Dig deeper into the ones you like.   Post something interesting.  Some tools may not work for you: that’s okay, just let them go. If you want to return, they aren’t going anywhere.

Social media can be daunting.  But by taking baby steps and simply listen, anyone can start using these tools.  Who knows: you might end up becoming an aficionado like me!

The Value of Social Media

February 20, 2012

In recent days I have read several articles questioning the value of social media. While many of their facts are probably correct, the implicit conclusion – that social media is overrated – is based on a false premise.

First we have an article from ZDNet entitled: “The hollow emptiness in social media numbers – most accounts are fake or empty.” Here, the author is says, and I quote, “With the possibility that nearly 50% of social network users could be fake or empty user accounts — this is a massive issue for social media marketing.” [emphasis from the author]

Second, Marketing Week (UK) says: “Social media “less useful” than thought.” The sub-heading says, “Almost half of consumers object to brand advertising on social networks that uses profile information, according to new research by YouGov.”

Assuming both articles are factually correct –  that empty accounts signal a problem for social media, and people generally do not like it when advertisements are shoved in their faces – both are based on a false premise.

Social media is not marketing.

Social media is a conversation.

Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are forums to ask and answer questions, connect with brands, talk with other consumers, manage reputations, share information, engage in conversations and – perhaps most importantly – to listen.  Ultimately this conversation can, and does, lead to increased sales, improved reputation etc.  But it is not marketing in the conventional sense.

To be sure, the field faces many challenges, including how to deal with the aforementioned empty accounts.  And while the ROI of social media is oftentimes difficult to quantify, there are only two things I can be sure of:

(1) There is a real-time global conversation taking place right now on social media about topics that you are interested in; and

(2) These conversations are happening with or without you.

So, is social media overrated?  In my opinion, that is the wrong question to ask.  The right question is:  are you engaged in the conversation, or is it happening without you?

The Social Bowl

February 6, 2012

For the first time, the NFL streamed the 2012 Superbowl on the web.  Let’s all welcome them to 2008!  Since I am not a sports fan, I figured I would watch the game on TV and online simultaneously and compare the two experiences from a social media perspective.  Ah, ADHD nerdiness.

There were definitely some good points to the online version. They offered a multi-angle feature where you could view the game from several different vantage points in a small window while watching the game on the main screen.  You could also make one of those angles your main view if you wanted.   That was kinda cool.  And there was a live Twitter feed which streamed commentary from Jimmy Fallon (?) and someone named “Tafoya, Florio” (???).  It also allowed you to ask questions to Mr./Mrs. Florio via Twitter, for what that’s worth.

Also, the online version provided instant access to the famed big-budget commercials.  They wisely permitted viewers to only see the commercials after they were broadcast.  No cheating!  I also noticed the commercials were timed differently.  It was hard to tell if they played the same commercials on TV compared to online.  But they were definitely not timed the same.

Other than that, the online version was, frankly, disappointing.  First and foremost it was hard to find the game on but I eventually found it on  Why wasn’t the biggest NFL event of the year streamed directly on the front screen of the NFL website?  Hello McFly!  Anybody home?  And apparently they sealed off the non-US market.  I’m sure the NFL had a reason for doing this.  But given the potential for global growth, could it possibly have been a good reason?

Additionally, the online interface lacked substantial fan interaction.  When the internet facilitates interactivity (i.e. it becomes more social) more people use the medium.  Such interactivity was almost non-existent on the website, other than the ability to ask “Tafoya, Florio” (again, ???) a question.  Indeed, I found monitoring, and commenting on, my Facebook and Twitter feeds to be much more enjoyable than watching the game itself.

The website also said Twitter predicted “Giants 55%, Patriots 45%” without explaining what that meant, where the metric came from or anything.  More detail and context would have been appreciated.

Perhaps most disappointing was the one-minute time delay online.  People monitoring their Twitter feeds while watching the game online would find out what happened on Twitter a full minute before seeing the play.   Since a minute in Twitterland may as well be a lifetime, more needs to be done to improve real-time streaming.

As a non-sports fan I found this to be the best Superbowl ever: not because it was a good game (which it was) but because I spent the entire time in hyper-ADHD mode, bouncing back and forth from the TV to Twitter to Facebook, jotting down notes and nom nom noming on snacks.  Sadly, it was an interactive experience which the NFL did little to facilitate.  Social media offers an interactive platform that TV simply cannot compete with.  The NFL could, and should, capitalize on this opportunity.

Of course the big question remains:  did the NFL, NBC and/or the advertisers make more money because the Superbowl was streamed online?  When I hear something I’ll let you know.  Meanwhile professional sports need to come into the 21st century and, at the very least, allow fans to subscribe to their favorite games online.  Otherwise they look like dinosaurs.  And they need to make their online interface more social.  That way, people will want to visit their website.  In the long run this will, ahem, make them more money.

The best part of online streaming?  They did not broadcast the Halftime show.  Good Lord, what was that?  Anyone?

Don’t do this on Twitter

January 22, 2012

Here’s a great example of how not to use Twitter.

In an effort to further engage in the conversation on Twitter, I followed a whole bunch more people.  Sadly, one of them was this fellow, who thought it would be totally awesome to post at least 30 Tweets in a row.  I tried to zoom out as much as possible but I still couldn’t capture every Tweet he sent in a burst. I quickly unfollowed him.

Don't do this on Twitter

So yeah, if you are looking to use Twitter, or any social media tool, it is important to engage in the conversation, not just talk about yourself. Especially 30+times in a row.

More Social Media Abuse

November 22, 2010

Recently I launched a new website/company, SynergiSocial, focusing on social media training for people who have never used social media before.  Apparently I need to expand my scope of services to experienced technical people who can’t keep their e-traps shut.

First there is this gem about a guy trashes the city of Memphis on Twitter while visiting FedEx which is located there.  This condescending Tweet could have cost Ketchum a multi-million dollar contract.  Then I came across this post describing how, after accepting a job at Cisco, some guy Tweeted that he hated the job before even starting.

Folks, social media is not about you; it’s about everyone else who reads what you put out there, which is why it’s called social media and not me me me me media.  I previously wrote a blog post about topics people should generally avoid posting to Facebook and Twitter.  I didn’t think I had to say this but apparently I do:  in addition to the other things I listed in the earlier blog post, DON’T trash your employers, employees, clients, enemies or friends on social media.  The Internet has a long and unforgiving history, and these postings will probably end up biting you at some point down the line.   This is especially true in a terrible economy.

So please be careful when using your social media.  A good rule of thumb is to use your outside voice:  if you wouldn’t say something in polite company or at a dinner party, why would you put it on the Internet for the whole world to see?