Be Careful What You Post - Because tattlers lurk among us.

So recently I posted my thoughts on guidelines related to social media, and I talked about how frustrating it is when you have to constantly watch your actions online because someone will tell. Well today one of our leaders at work shared a blog posting with us that was passed along from another leader in our company. "Be Careful What You Post" is a recent (Jan. 15) blog post from Peter Shankman. It describes a recent event where an ad company employee who posted an update to Twitter upon arriving in Memphis, TN that he would "die if I had to live here". The problem was that the ad man was in Memphis to give a presentation to FedEx who is headquartered in Memphis - and evidently chock full of Memphis born and bred employees. A FedEx employee saw the tweet and emailed the ad man a letter defending Memphis.

Before I go further, let me first interject that this blog has nothing to do with any of the leaders in our company who read Shankman's post and passed it along. I'm not disagreeing with anyone or saying anyone is wrong - I'm just 'blogging' about a social media case study and providing my opinion - that.. is not in any way related to the opinions of my company, my co-workers, my bosses, my friends, my family, or my family cat. So now that I've gotten this disclaimer out of the way (rolling eyes), don't tattle on me for blogging about tattlers.

Ok, so back to the FedEx story... like I said, the FedEx employee emailed the ad man and defended Memphis, and described all the good work FedEx is doing in the communities of Memphis. I think this was a good move on the FedEx employee's part - defend your city, share the good things FedEx is doing, and ask ad man to no longer put poor Memphis down.


The FedEx employee did not just email the ad man... oh no, he couldn't just discuss one on one with the ad man - no, he wasn't satisfied unless he really made the ad man sweat (for only saying Memphis wasn't his favorite place). The FedEx employee CC'd the email to the FedEx Corporate Vice President, Vice President, Directors and all management of FedEx’s communication department AND the chain of command at Ketchum. Really?

Does anyone have a sense of humor anymore? Look, I understand that ad man should not have made a crack on Memphis while traveling to the city to meet with a customer who happens to be headquartered there. It was bad judgment. I get that. But at the same time, are we really going to glorify goody-two-shoes FedEx employee who makes a point to copy every higher up he can think of on a 'shame on you Mr. Ad man...we're watching you' email?

This all goes back to my frustrations with the old school way of thinking. Is it really such a big deal that ad man just didn't like Memphis? Is it really such a big deal that he expresses his opinion? Again, I get it... bad judgment from ad man since it was a business trip, but again, I just get really annoyed with the self righteous tattle tales that work among us. Like I said in my previous post, if I see a coworker's opinion online or a picture of them - I don't judge. I don't jump to assumptions. I don't tattle on them.

If I was the Fed-Ex employee, here is what I would have done: I would have sent the same exact letter defending the city and mentioning to the ad man to please be careful in the future. I would have MAYBE copied my direct boss and that would be it. It's not my place to judge other people and get them in trouble. If the ad man had tweeted, "FedEx is a horrible client..I can't wait until this project is over", then that is a reason to copy the higher ups - but copying VP's and Directors because of a 140 character sentence about a city?

I live in Columbia, SC. Defend it all you want, but it's not the best place to live. Wouldn't most of us rather be living on the beach in Charleston (don't lie)? When I first moved to Columbia, I hated it. Not only is this the hometown of the hateful gamecocks, but it's concrete everywhere. Homeless people and bad drivers. But after living here for almost four years, it's grown on me. I really like the company I work for and my co-workers (and no, I'm not just saying that because they may be watching me online). I love my house, and after yesterday and today's weather, I'm thankful I never moved to Minnesota (thank you, thank you, thank you). I'm a two hour drive from the beach...a two hour drive from Clemson...a two hour drive from Charlotte...and a three hour drive to Atlanta. Sure, I hate how truly awful the heat is here in the summer, but it's not so bad. BUT, if someone cracks on Columbia on Twitter - I'm not going to get up in arms...even if it is someone from an agency visiting us. Honestly, I'd laugh it off and say, "Yeah..but it grows on you" or "Yeah...it's hot as hades, but you should really visit the Riverwalk or hang out in the Vista...it might change your mind." Why not take ad man to your favorite Memphis restaurant, or take him sightseeing to local attractions - show him the Memphis you so strongly defend. I wouldn't chide the person and email the entire senior leadership at my company. I just feel like our CEO would email me back and say, "First of all, who are you? Secondly, why are you wasting my time? Thirdly, what the heck is Twitter?"

And before you say to me, "Well Christy, you didn't grow up in Columbia, you don't have that connection to defend it." Let me just tell you.. I grew up in Birmingham, AL ok.. and I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Hey, I drove through Birmingham on my way to [New Orleans, Texas, etc.] and wow, not much to see there." I've gotten the redneck thing, the marrying my cousin thing, the racist thing ("You're from Birmingham? Wow, I heard they are stuck in the 60's and schools are still segregated")... you name it, Birmingham is a pretty easy target. But I don't get upset if someone just doesn't like Birmingham... I shrug and let it roll off my shoulders...

So to make a long blog post short, I will state my opinion (imagine that) and say that I do agree that better judgment should be made when it comes to social media -- again, don't post something you don't want your mother to read. But I also think that there are people out there who just might look a little too hard for 'bad judgment' and then make a mountain out of what was really only a hill. A letter should have been sent to the ad man from Corporate Communications at FedEx, and then ad man could have apologized and of course state the obvious that he meant no offense to the client.

Bottom line is you just can't be too sensitive about things you see online because sarcasm, tone, etc. do not read well online. So, yes, be careful what you post - but also, be careful how you interpret and react to what you see in social media. Can't we all just get along?


Anonymous said...


CriticalKatya said...

I enjoyed reading that, thank you.

Unknown said...

Yes but if they didn't make a HUGE deal of it then we wouldn't have had anything to giggle and blog about ;)

Keela said...

You're just a tad bit passionate about this aren't you, dear? As always, well said and quite insightful, especially the disclaimer! Have fun in the 'Ham! And I even forgive you for the Gamecocks reference and I won't be copying Nicole, Therese and Cathy on this comment! LOL

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a little passion.

I answer with biting and irreverent humor, and lightning fast Google Ninja skills.

Someone cracks on Memphis (or Birmingham, or __________?)

1) Find out what they list as a home city?
2) Figure out what they are most proud of.
3) Find an embarrassing headline peculiar to their hometown.
4) Mix, stir, simmer...

5) Respond with well-placed Tweet that retaliates in such a manner as to give you plausible deniability.

Falkayn said...

I think the interesting point was that the tattler was also making snide remarks that seemed to intimate that they didn't like work FedEx could have done in house getting sent to the consultant.

IOW there was an element of professional jealousy working too,