The Arizona Cardinals suffered a tough loss to the Panthers on Championship Sunday. Before the game wrapped up, the @AZCardinals tweeted the MJ crying meme.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 25, 2016
We all know the Internet is ruthless. It’s even more ruthless when you have a game like the Cardinals did. This was surely an attempt to fend off the forthcoming trolls, and strangely (or not so strangely), the humor seemed to work. The tweet has more than 51,000 retweets and 38,000 likes to date. Unbelievable.
I’m sure this post, like many others, is one that people are on the fence with: Was it appropriate for a team or not? I’m not here to debate that. I just want to offer some food for thought. If you’re a social media manager and find yourself in a situation like the Cardinals with an epic tweet you’re waiting to hit send on, here are some things to consider:
Get buy-in from the top.
You need to have buy-in from the top if you want to teeter the line at all. Period. Social media content and the voice isn’t a reflection of the social media manager; it’s a reflection of the team through and through. Have conversations with the appropriate people to understand how much you can push the line. And if you have any hesitation at all, take the extra two minutes to get sign off.
Have a pulse on your community.
Every fan base and community is different. As a social media/community manager, you have to have a pulse on your audience’s sentiment and humor. What makes them tick? What makes them mad? Trust your gut as a community manager.
In a similar vein, remember you are never speaking to your community alone. A tweet that pushes the envelope will more likely go way outside your fan base. Create for your audience, but know that everything has a global reach.
Remember, there’s definitely a line.
Every time something controversial happens in #smsports, people often compare it to other controversial tweets and content. For example, what makes this different from the Houston Rockets tweet? There’s a fine line and it’s easy to cross. There are things you should stay away from period. For example, I would never touch anything that hints at violence, religion, politics, etc. Know those boundaries and don’t cross that line. Things can turn south very quickly. Context is everything.
It’s social. Take risks.
I have to be honest. I’m often conservative when it comes to situations like this. I air on the side of over-protecting the brand. I know that I’m too conservative though, and I know there are times when it’s good to take risks (ones where you have buy in of course). The truth is, if we don’t push the envelope some and as appropriate, it’s hard to grow, learn and stand out. If you tend to be conservative like me, don’t be afraid to find ways to push the edge. Evolve, evolve, evolve. Push your perspective. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
The one thing about the MJ meme tweet from the Cardinals is that it seemed to break the ice. They were in a no-win situation and tackled the awkwardness head on. Social media is about being conversational and human. By pushing out what everyone was thinking, it added a level of authenticity to their account (whether it was right or wrong). Social media should be fun. It should be conversational. All of this within reason, of course.
Weigh risks. Know the purpose.
As with everything, it’s important to know your why. Do you simply want to make a splash or break the Internet, even if it means so pushback from fans? Understand why you’re tweeting and know the risks associated. If you can own it and have buy in, then it might just be okay to go for it.
What would the players say if they saw it?
As mentioned before, social media is a reflection of the organization through and through. Much like the “mom lens” we all talk about with social media content, I think it’s important to look at your content through the eyes of the team. What would the players say if and when they see the tweet? There are times when this filter might not dictate your decision, but it never hurts to look through this lens.
Tweets like this are never black and white. What works for one team or one situation, won’t work for another. Think through these scenarios and have candid conversations internally about the organization’s point-of-view on voice, tone and risks. With all of these things in mind, it will be easier to act swiftly in the moment and add an extra layer to ensure it doesn’t backfire internally.
Note: It’s worth pointing out, that after the MJ tweet the Cardinals followed up with a great series of tweets after their loss. They had a final score graphic, they congratulated the Panthers and they thanked their fans. All of this was thoughtful and very on brand.
What are your thoughts on the MJ crying meme? I would love your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading!