Florida State Seminoles football

The conversation will happen - whether you're part of it or not

I'm a big fan of Florida State Football. I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and, as the saying goes, I bleed garnet and gold. I must admit that it's harder to follow them now that I live so far away, but the one place I never expected to see news about my favorite sports team was in my RSS feed that is full of social media, marketing, public relations and personal blog content. What I'm not a huge fan of is the team's recent decision to ban social media use.

According to the story by Social Times, this decision was made based on influence from Coach Jimbo Fisher:
“I don’t think it’s smart,” Fisher told The Ledger. “There’s no benefit. Tell me a benefit for getting on it? Because the only thing that comes back is negative. They read all the stuff that people say. I’ve told them, ‘Be careful. Don’t listen to it and don’t reply back.’”

In a few sentences, Coach Fisher has demonstrated to the world that he knows very little about social media. To me, this is a lost opportunity. The players don't have to be involved in social media, but if the already were, why not bring someone in to help them deal with criticism? Develop a solid social media policy and strategy that covers when to engage and when to walk away.

Whenever I'm talking to public figures and business people about whether or not there is value in using social media, I usually tell them that the conversation is going on - with or without them. If any entity or individual chooses to stay out of social media, the conversation will stay one-sided.

Every single mention in social media - negative or positive - that goes unseen and unaddressed (even if it is only to make note of the comment) is a lost opportunity. It isn't necessary to respond to criticism that's destructive, but constructive criticism and engaging an audience that is struggling to have faith in your ability to deliver is a great opportunity to affect the tide of public opinion. Florida State's football program is no stranger to harsh criticism from fans and media alike. To ban social media tools over critical sentiment is throwing the baby out with the bath water and sends an unfortunate message to fans that the team isn't interested in building up a positive community around their efforts to return to the glory days of winning seasons.

In my opinion, fear is one of the greatest hurdles to getting buy-in for the use of social media in organizations. Do you agree? What would you say to someone who fears the negative side of using social media?