In today’s world, using social media is probably a must for any individual to properly build his or her brand to the fullest extent. Mediums such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the ability to make a relative unknown into an individual discussed by the general public for a single thread of compelling content. Alternatively, social media’s power can quickly take an established personality and crumble that individual’s reputation in a heartbeat.
Take ESPN personality Jemele Hill for example.
This morning, President Trump tweeted, “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have “tanked,” in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry.”
Some may say that the pinnacle of social media stardom is to be tweeted by the President of the U.S. and that there is no better exposure, even if the President’s message is intended to belittle the individual. Others could construe it as a crushing blow to a person’s reputation that has been built over years of hard work. All based on a few tweets.
So what exactly happened with Hill?
On Monday, October 9, ESPN suspended SportsCenter anchor Hill for two weeks based on a “second violation of the company’s social media guidelines.” The belief is that Hill’s tweet that encouraged followers to boycott Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ advertisers, many of which are also ESPN advertisers, ultimately led to the suspension.
“This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”
Hill’s tweet was a reaction to Jones stating that “if there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play . . . understand? We will not . . . if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
Hill took to Twitter, ostensibly understanding that her actions would be analyzed under the terms of her employment agreement with ESPN, and shared her thoughts. Whether right or wrong from a normative standpoint, Hill has and will suffer the consequences of speaking her mind on Twitter and angering her employer, which undoubtedly felt a backlash from sponsors shared by the Cowboys.
No matter whether Hill desires to claim that the opinions she expresses on Twitter are not those of her employer, she cannot avoid the perception that the views may be tied. And thus, her social media may cause a set back in pay, at least for the near future. It is a lesson to all. Your employer definitely cares about the content you are posting on social media.