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On Social Media, Nobody Can Hear You Joking

On Social Media, Nobody Can Hear You Joking

Out in Colorado, a clerk at a liquor store war-whooped at a Native American customer. When she complained, she was told she should have a different last name. In Massachusetts, a female employee at a comic book store was fired after sharing her concerns that other staffers referred to a storage area as a “rape room.”

We learned about these stories the way the rest of the world (and the news media!) did: through social media. There are lots of conversations about how social media empowers the individual to address situations where they feel they’ve been treated badly. A well-presented narrative that taps into people’s natural sense of outrage will be shared frequently. As a result, these businesses have had their name and image dragged all over the internet, in the most unfavorable way possible.

This is the type of situation that gives business owners sleepless nights. Even if a company does everything possible to promote a workplace culture where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, it only takes one front line employee with very poor social awareness and judgment (sometimes referred to as a terrible sense of humor) to create a public relations nightmare. You have no control over this happening; neither the timing nor the incident is up to you.

What is up to you, however, is your response. Unfortunately, the business owner has chosen to engage in some less than ideal crisis management practices, erasing critical comments from their social media platforms and issuing statements to the media that they will have statements to make on the issue…later.

Here’s how you do it right:

When a member of your team does something that is egregiously out of alignment with your company’s values (and your customer’s expectations!) the first thing to do is address the issue with your employee and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Social norms have changed. You cannot run a viable business with people who do not know how to treat other people with the respect they deserve; it may be that you have some staffing changes to make.

Then, even though it is hard, don’t erase the commentary on social media. You’re not going to gain anything by that, and you may even add fuel to the fire. Instead, reach out, preferably through a private message, first to the person affected by the incident, and see what would need to happen to make things right.

Then, through your own social media platforms and on your website, issue a statement that acknowledges the situation, lets the public know that you’ve reached out to the impacted individuals, and what corrective steps have been taken to prevent this from happening again. Ideally, this all needs to happen within hours of the original incident; however, it’s never too late to start making things right.

If you’re too close to the situation to proceed dispassionately, or you’re struggling to understand why so many people are upset over what to you just seems like a joke gone wrong, these are the signs that you need to delegate responding to your critics to a third party: either a trusted employee with crisis management skills or a professional firm who can step into the messaging role for you on a short term basis.

Mistakes will be made. However, if you hold people accountable, demand improved performance going forward, and communicate this clearly to the parties involved and the larger communities who are watching what you do, it doesn’t have to wreck your business.

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Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

Design, Photography, Illustration, Digital Imagery Manipulation, Wesbite Development

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, HTML/CSS, Wordpress


Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Facebook Creator Studio, Instagram, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Emma Mail, Google Data Studio, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Office