Social media seems to be the cause of many a PR disaster particularly twitter. Twitter is platform that is very easy to forget oneself on; from banter to offensive and problematic messages it has become a space on which individuals can make or break their reputations. It can happen to business owners, entrepreneurs, every day individuals and celebrities alike. I’m not sure whether people simply forget that the internet does not forget and what is posted on any social media platform is visible to the world or that they underestimate the reach and impact of the messages they share. Twitter is space which collective reactions can be extremely polarising and even if a tweet is many years old as Kevin Hart himself found out, if you do not handle public online reaction in the right way you can lose out on many opportunities. Cancel culture and call-out culture exists, there are an effort by individuals to use their online communities to hold people with influence and celebrity status to account when they misuse social media and it’s fair. If you have any sort of influence you have to be conscious of what you share online, it lives on through screenshots and the media at large. That is not to say however that a celebrity should necessarily be held to a higher standard than we hold ourselves or our loved ones for example. How many people in our personal lives would we cancel for every problematic statement they made to us in their lives? That being said many of the celebrities that some people argue should be cancelled are still thriving which begs the question of whether cancel culture works or should it allow space for growth and learning? Do we ever really forgive celebrities when they apologise for their problematic tweets?
In this video case study I focus on Maya Jama, celebrity TV presenter/personality in the UK was caught up in a PR disaster after the problematic and offensive tweets she posted about Dark Skinned Black Women between 2012 and 2013 were dug up. I created this video to address not only Maya Jama’s Twitter scandal but the impact of using social media to amplify problematic views and offensive mindsets/narratives and whether we can forgive or in fact forget.
I also look at how apologies are becoming ineffective in light of these situations, and whilst I don’t give all my strategic advice away in the video, I do offer some insight from a PR perspective.
There are roughly 336 million monthly active users of twitter around the world (as of 2018), with nearly 1.5 billion registered accounts. According to twitter monitoring platform Twopchart 44% of individuals who register an account with twitter left before ever sending a Tweet. Are you one of those people who enthusiastically registered onto twitter, entered its online realm and quickly became discouraged? Or are you a lurker – someone who uses twitter to keep up to date with topics of interest and follow interesting debates but you never get involved. Twitter is hands down my favourite social media platform. I love it! I have made great connections, learnt new things, been kept in the loop with regards to current affairs/breaking news (which is great for a PR pro like myself), established my brand and attracted clients all from twitter. But I realise that it is not a space for everyone, as a Black woman I am more likely to receive trolling or abuse from my use of twitter. According to a 2018 Amnesty International study, Troll Patrol, on online abuse “Black women were disproportionately targeted, being 84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets.” I still enjoy using this platform despite the fact that it can have flaws like anywhere in life:
People complain about twitter being a bad place but to be honest if you cleanse your timeline and stay in your lane it’s one of the best social media platforms out there.
Know when/how to block and mute and only start something that you’re ready to finish. Simple.
I want more people, especially women, to learn how to use twitter effectively and start enjoying it more. So many of you have interesting things to share with the world and twitter is the space to share it. Twitter is not perfect and it still has work to do in order to address the issues of trolling and abuse on the platform and how it deals with problematic accounts but that should not deter people from using it.
Here are a few tips on how to start enjoyed twitter more and turn your dislike of it into a more enjoyable experience:
You are worried about what other people think of you: You will find that twitter is very much a space for people to share their opinions and thoughts. This means that it is a space in which people will disagree with each other quite regularly. Interestingly enough I find that people feel more confident sharing their opinions on closed platforms like Facebook because they feel safer, perhaps they prefer to disagree with people that they have chosen to connect with rather than the open space of twitter (you can keep your twitter account private but that defeats the purpose in my view). I would argue that if you consider twitter to be a space which can make an impact on your brand that you should be more confident and stop worrying about the judgement of others. As long as you’re not being offensive or a troll your opinion is valid.
You can’t handle the response: I am not going to deny that social media has an impact on egos and social interaction; some people have become “internet famous” because of their tweets and some have had their brands destroyed. These are extreme examples but they are based on how people respond to tweets. You will be more vulnerable to criticism and trolling, you will also be more vulnerable to people who see something special in you and just admire your work/business/brand. If you get trolled, twitter has the tools to block, report and mute people – you do not have to respond to every single person who tweets you.
You don’t think you have the time: The beauty (in my opinion) of twitter is that it is very on the pulse, it moves quickly and is one of the most responsive new media platforms out there. Because of this it is very easy to use, sending a tweet takes 20-30 seconds, sometimes more but it really is the least time consuming of all platforms if you manage your time effectively. The reason it looks like it takes time is because it is so active, but you can automate your activity and you can tweet at times that suit you. You might find that you spend time scrolling more than tweeting but again make sure that you set a limit on how much time you spend on twitter if you think it is having a negative impact on your productivity. You do not have to feel pressured into staying logged onto twitter at every single second of every single day, in fact for your general well-being I would recommend regular breaks from all social media platforms.
You’re obsessed with online popularity: Maybe you have seen other people in your field get more retweets or go viral on twitter and you have tried to replicate what they do and have become frustrated with your lack of popularity. Perhaps you are jealous of how popular others are on twitter and rather than simply be yourself and enjoy the process you have blamed the platform as opposed to assessing your own motives for using it. Take the time to really assess your use of social media particularly a space like twitter and be honest with yourself.
You don’t have very many followers: I often get asked about social media following and engagement and twitter is usually top of the list for small business owners/professionals who want more followers to promote their brand to. Social media should not just be a numbers game, it has to be about building quality relationships. Stop obsessing over how many followers you have and just get more comfortable with sharing your thoughts and views. Hopefully this video will give you some insight into how to build your following on twitter and most importantly how to improve your engagement and influence.
Stop overthinking twitter, in fact I challenge you to stop overthinking all social media and be more mindful in your use of all platforms. With the right strategy in place you can use twitter to make an impact on your brand and reputation you just have to learn to enjoy it and if you still decide that you don’t like it then that is fair enough but at least after reading this you’ll be sure whether it is the space for you.