Wednesday, 22 January 2014

9 Perils of Posts, Texts and Tweets in Sales - no place for fun, irony or innuendo?

In selling, as in any human endeavour, there can be a dangerous tendency to rush into judgement, and the additive desire to be part of the crowd.

Social media is immediate, interactive, conversational and open-ended. This sets it apart from other forms of communication in selling and demands a DIFFERENT way of thinking and selling.

There are perils of posting, texting and tweets which we in Selling need to know..
 In self promotion,  social media has enabled a range of ways to quickly publish our expertise,views, opinions and feelings.
Social media has made ' old skool vanity publishing’  pretty much free.-Well at least free to publish !

Ill-considered Tweets
 The consequences of ill considered tweets  - even  just seven words- can be very costly as Sally Berko found with her *innocent face* tweet which was held to be “ seriously defamatory”, even when she allegedly did not intend it to be defamatory and her tweet did not make any express accusation. 
Her QC, William McCormick, had argued that the phrase "innocent face" was merely an indication that the tweet should be read in a deadpan manner, comparable to stage directions or notation on a musical score.
Yet we should all be in no doubt that the libel law applies to everyone, whatever "platform"  we use to make our statements –  the papers, journals, TV, radio, blogs, social media and even perhaps the office water cooler.
The ruling may have  given reassurance to people who feel that tweeters who mention them are not observing the law as strictly as they would in mainstream media. Just 140 characters can cost the unwary an awful lot of money.

"Egg on face can be very eggspensive !"
 Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation.
“On this, I have learned my own lesson the hard way “ Sally Bercow’s statement read.

She may have agreed to pay a settlement to the late Lord McAlpine, but the high court has ensured the British tweeting public will be paying in fun, irony and innuendo forever.

 “In my judgement, the reasonable reader would understand the words ‘innocent face’ as being insincere and ironical,” Mr Justice Tugendhat said.
“There is no sensible reason for including those words in the tweet if they are to be taken as meaning that the defendant simply wants to know the answer to a factual question.”
The reader would reasonably infer that Mrs Bercow had provided “the last piece in the jigsaw”, he said.
A number of tweeters in the selling profession  will now have to rein in some of their tweets, tamed by the knowledge that even a possible microscopic suggestion could land you in court,.

  " It is engraved in Social's stone"

The ease of communication via Social media and email make it far too easy to say the wrong thing or to be caught in a way that could jeopardise your job.

Nikii Chesworth wrote an advertising feature in London's Evening Standard 21st January 2014 above an advertisement for Slater and Gordon Lawyers quoting Edward Cooper of Slater and Gordon.

"If you have been critical of your employer, the first thing you should do is take down any offensive postings and after removing them apologise. 

What happens next depends on the seriousness  of what was said. Moaning about a bad day at the office is a different thing to being critical of a new product or a named manager.

In some cases you could face dismissal in the grounds of an abuse of (company ) policy  with your employer or because you have undermined the relationship that has broken down.

You could also be dismissed for breach of confidence, if you distribute confidential information  possibly even by emailing it to yourself at home or by breaching the terms of mutual trust."

Niki Chesworth goes on to warn readers " However, there is one more pitfall to watch out for: employers using what you believe to be a harmless comment to get rid of you"
How to counteract the 9 Perils of Posts, Texts and Tweets 

Churches do have a selling role in the sense of “persuasive communication against resistance”. Their selling language tends to omit the ‘S’ word substituting it with expression like ‘evangelising’ or ‘preaching the Christian message’. 

Here is an adaptation of the Nine commandments issued by the diocese of Bath and Wells to its clergy and laity recently issued.  These 'commandments' also make a handy corporate social media policy if you don't already have one in your company.

1. Don’t rush in to be ‘liked’ or have your tweets shared or re-tweeted and THINK B4 U TWEET

2. Remember updates are transient yet permanent

3. You’re an ambassador for your company

4. Don’t hide behind anonymity

5. Think about the blurring of work/private life boundaries

6. Safeguarding: communicating directly online is like meeting a client/prospect or colleague in private

7. Stay within the legal framework and your company’s social and email policy

8. Respect confidentiality

9. Be mindful of your own security

Dale Carnegie in the Digital Age

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