Another Hard Lesson Learned in Business
I have a confession to make. I screwed up this week. Royally.
I’m not a perfect person (or business owner or mom or wife or friend), nor have I ever claimed to be. I do, however, believe in walking the talk, and that’s where I failed.
As a social media professional, I have given umpteen talks about being cautious about what you post on social media – both as an individual and as a brand. Words can be taken the wrong way, interns can totally mess up a business’ image, accounts can get hacked – we’ve all heard the stories.
I have one to add to that list because I, Mandy Edwards the professional, did it to myself.
One of my business’ mantras is to always conduct itself with transparency and with complete honesty. We’re always upfront about everything, so every question can be answered. And this can be for better or for worse, but I have found through long, tough experience, transparency and honesty will get you a lot farther in business than lies and cover-ups.
So in that spirit, for better or for worse, I share this with you so you can learn from my mistake. See, you can be fresh out of college and new to this, or have been in this business many, many years like myself. Mistakes happen to everyone but how we handle them, I feel, says a lot.
This past week, I had a few business “events” (as we will call them) not work out like I had hoped, which left me in not a good place. At about the same time this last “event” fell through, I found out about yet another business “event” that I missed out on, which was what I call, the straw breaking the camel’s back. This all took place around 10:30-11:00pm (nothing good happens after 10pm – we should all just go to bed). Being the self-admitted hot-headed redhead I am, I sent out three cryptic angry tweets, one vague Facebook status, and an Instagram quote on my business account, which I re-grammed onto my personal account. Oh, and a ranting blog post as well. No organizations, businesses, or individuals were named in any of it. But I knew better. I knew better.
Feeling somewhat vilified, I go to bed and wake up six hours later feeling like the most horrible person in the world (and still felt that way for two days). Within a couple hours of waking, all the tweets (and the few replies) and the two Instagram posts were deleted. The Facebook status was getting a lot of response from a lot of business owners so I left it (it was joking about how being a business owner needs a guidebook on handling the emotional rollercoaster that comes along with it). The blog post got buried deep in the website thanks to backdating.
But in those 6-8 hours it was all up, even though it was the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, people took notice. The ones I was upset with took notice. Everything was taken down, but I still didn’t feel right. I felt bad because I knew better. I knew I messed up. I knew I did something I shouldn’t have – I didn’t walk the talk. I failed myself.
So I did what I thought was best – I publicly admitted (without the details) to my followers what I did and owned up to it. If I can’t be transparent and honest in my business in a time when there’s so much fake-ness going on online, then how can I be a good steward to my clients? I own up to them if I mess up, so I feel I owe the same to you.
I also reached out and messaged an individual who was upset about the posts and apologized to them. My fingers were shaking as I typed it. I felt like I was going to be sick. But I knew I had to – I felt the Lord telling me it was the right thing to do. I knew I was in the wrong and I had to own up it.
In our sermon in church Sunday, our Pastor made a statement that made me reflect on all of this. He said the words we speak reflect what’s really in our heart. It made me think, did I really mean those rash things I said as a result of a hurt ego and wounded business pride? No, but it’s a statement that’s made me more aware of what I will say in the future.
As a business owner, I royally screwed up. Someone recently called a good friend and mentor of mine a “loose cannon”. That’s the best way to describe what I was the other night. It’s not fun writing about this. Believe me – I’d MUCH rather write about 10 tips to increase your Instagram engagement or creative ways to use Facebook Live during the holiday season.
I just hope that if you are reading this, you see this as an example of what not do “in the moment” when you’re upset or so angry about something you need to vent. Social media is a great medium for a lot of things, but venting or releasing your feelings over something is not the place.
Mark this off as a lesson learned.