It started with a move that a social media marketing manager (SMM) thought industry peers would rally behind.
The now-former SMM’s post from the NBA account about fair pay and balanced working hours took a turn for the worse when the noble cause that seemed to be behind hijacking the brand account became a vehicle for self-promotion. While his allegations were serious and worthy of the spotlight, what the individual did was commit social media manager malpractice: reveal his full name, contact information and (unserious) professional rates that are a swipe against the profession.
We can hold two truths at the same time: This SMM was right to call out unfair pay and labor practices, but wrong in his approach.
In a perfect world, these types of incidents can be avoided: senior leadership would be conducting regular check-ins and assessments of team morale and bandwidth; boundaries would be created and enforced on the time demands for all SMMs; SMMs would be viewed and respected as front-line brand ambassadors worthy of trust and care.
Initially, the industry call-to-arms was around a cause worth of merit: How do we properly advocate for the fair wages and working conditions that we do not feel we are currently receiving? However, the SMM’s method of calling attention was a Trojan horse for his own personal brand-
buildingdestroying. Going rogue from a brand’s account is not only a high-stakes act of impulsiveness, it is damaging to the trajectory of all social media managers.
A bad rep
The NBA has a vested interest in making sure this never happens again. Hopefully, that means they implement some pay and role changes, but for sure it means they will bring down a new, and cumbersome, set of security procedures around league social.
As Chaka Cumberbatch, U.S. social lead at Google Pixel and a decade-plus industry veteran, put it, “This is going to affect everyone on the frontline of social at the NBA. The remaining social team, the copywriters, the creatives and every other team who touches social content, are going to have new layers of work added to their plate because the NBA will rightfully want to ensure this never happens again.” Social media managers are already fighting uphill battles to gain trust and approvals every day—incidents like this set back our collective efforts.
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