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FSU ‘axes’ social media – right play or wrong call?

Came across this the other day on while cruising the interwebs –

Florida State Players Vote to Nix Social Media

From the headline alone, as an interactive media professional, my first thought is – “Not a smart move.” As a general rule, you never want to cut off your interactive communication channels, your social media. Whether the feedback and comments are positive or negative, the interactive nature of social media is a powerful tool when used properly; a tool you do not want to be without nor give up.

Reading further explained why the decision was made to cease social media.

A small group of FSU players — including quarterback EJ Manuel, wide receiver Kenny Shaw and defensive back Greg Reid — said on their Twitter feeds Saturday night that fans were hitting them with negative commentary after the Seminoles lost their third straight game. ...

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said he did not ban the use of Twitter and Facebook, surmising that the players voted on the ban during a players' only meeting Sunday night.

It seems that it was a decision made by the players and the players alone in response to the negative feedback some fans were shooting their way during the Seminoles three-game skid this season.

However, as the article theorizes, Head Coach Jimbo Fisher’s previous warnings about social media likely influenced his team at least to some degree –

But Fisher has preached the pitfalls of reading and responding to comments from fans. … "I don't think it's smart … 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.'" ...

"Coach Fisher has always warned us about the social networks because a lot of it is just people having a chance to voice their opinions, directly to us," Manuel said. ...

"Obviously right now it's kind of negative. ... It was a joint effort. Everybody understands that we need to focus in and not be up at night worrying about Twitter or be up at night worrying about Facebook. Focus on what we have to do. Twitter and Facebook is just extra stuff that we don't need right now."

Now, you can argue the merits of the reasoning behind the decision to ban social media, from the “focus in” and ‘eliminate the distractions’ standpoint, from the fostering a healthy environment for young players and men to develop … but that is for another time and place.

Here, what we are concerned with is looking at the decision to ban from the standpoint of interactive and social media strategy and best practices.

Simply put, as a general rule, cutting off social media and interactive feedback channels in the face of criticism is the wrong play call. You lose credibility in and trust from the new media space when you shut down your social and interactive media channels when confronted with negative feedback.

Instead, organizations need to use the opportunity to engage in conversation those lobbing criticism their way, learn from them to make your organization better. Being honest and open, not running from criticism but facing it head on and working collaboratively with your fans on making things better is where the true power of interactive media is leveraged.

*I do want to note that there are exceptions to every rule. Careful, deliberate examination of your unique situation and circumstances by a trained, experienced interactive and social media professional will help ensure that your organization makes the winning call when it comes to leveraging interactive and social media.