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How Twitter Cost Me a Great Job in TV

Louise Gallagher

Using social media to promote yourself in TV is essential. It is a fabulous resource for that all-important networking process – but it can backfire!

Lou Gallagher is a familiar contributor to this blog. She wrote about her desire to change careers from the charity sector into TV and then wrote about her success in doing just that.

Lou got herself established in some prime TV jobs but it was not all plain sailing. It seems the one thing that had helped her get ahead was also capable of tripping her up! An incident on Twitter lost her the chance of a great job.

Use Social Media with caution when using it for professional purposes!

Here’s Lou’s important cautionary tale:

 

Social media when working in TV – friend or foe?

by Lou Gallagher

 

I love Twitter… and Facebook… so much so that I have short cuts to the desktop of my ‘smartphone’, and wiggle with excitement when I have a spare 15 minutes in the day to have a good old nose.

I have a rule – Twitter is for all and Facebook is for my ‘friends’ only. If I have accepted you as a ‘Facebook friend’ then it means I trust you enough to let you look through all my photos (predominantly drunken antics), not feel uncomfortable if you ‘poke me’ and am happy to swear/share sad times/share naughty moments/share drunken cringe statements etc with you.

If I live by this rule, am I therefore saying that I don’t do these things on Twitter? Well, not entirely. I do however use Twitter as a tool – a tool to find staff, to find peers, to find suppliers. I also use it as a tool to promote my events, my job vacancies and my friends’ projects. I occasionally tweet something of a social nature – i.e. a thought, a funny photo or an exasperated comment. Occasionally. I RT useful things – jobs, tips and links.

I used to use Twitter much more freely. Now, not as freely as I use Facebook – after all, my Tweeps aren’t ‘friends’ – but I had an assumption that I could use it quite freely nevertheless.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying – I didn’t post photos of myself with my skirt hitched around my bum cheeks on drunken nights out (largely as I don’t own any of those types of photos…), nor write abusive messages to people I think are absolute fools (I won’t name names but as an example (and naming a name) Joey Barton); but, I did speak more fluidly in terms of the language I used and I RT’d things that made me giggle.

I didn’t stop for one second to consider that the things that made me giggle, or the language I didn’t find offensive, would upset/distress/annoy/or provoke strong reaction in anyone else. Who would/should it? After all, this was MY personal twitter account – if someone didn’t like it they could simply block me, right?

I was working, at the time, on what some might consider the ‘dream job’ a BIG show with LEADING INDIE. You know, the elusive job that every new/junior entrant craves and every senior person seems to have worked on? It was going well – I had a good rep, was respected, commended for my personable nature and more importantly was turned to when people were in need of help or advice – so well in fact that many of the people I met whilst working on it tried to add me as a ‘friend’ on Facebook. Well, ‘obvs’ I wasn’t accepting them all – FB after all was where I was ‘naughty’. I didn’t object for a second though when they followed me on Twitter!

One day I said a naughty word – not a universally naughty word such as a crude reference to a body part or a racist slur etc – but a word that I thought was funny and not particularly offensive to describe a type of person. It didn’t spark anything untoward; it was after all a mere word.. Some time afterwards a very well known Twitter account that I follow (in the sector) made reference to the statement I had made with the ‘naughty word’ and I giggled… and RTd it.

Nothing too dangerous here right? WRONG!

 

Somebody took offence. That somebody had worked on the same show I was on and therefore knew where I worked. That somebody knew all the key people in the company… and complained to them. About me. About my offensive and company representative tweet.

Now – I won’t go into the details too much here – they are not relevant. What I will say is that when my time on that job ended, I wasn’t invited to stay on. The good, the hours, the support, the praise… it meant very little. I had enabled someone to make a complaint and that killed that.

I reacted badly – I deleted my Twitter account. I resented having ever supported anyone I had worked with, resented having given up my free time to help others. I was very cross. Then hurt. Then amused.

A long time has passed since this occurred (and a lot happened thereafter) – and I am now able to view the incident with much more balance than I did at the time. I certainly did not need to put myself through quite as much torture as I did. I did need to learn though.

So – what did I need to realise and what can I hopefully share with you that will prevent the dangers of social networking (in relation to your career) causing you to shed a tear? This:

 

  • Do not have a social networking site account without including the simple statement that ‘THIS IS A PERSONAL ACCOUNT. My views do not represent those of my employer or anyone else’.

 

  • Don’t blur the use of your social network site – is it for fun? Fine – don’t approach employers on it. Is it for networking? Great – network away, don’t hassle people (there is a fine line between making efforts and stalking). Is it for professional purposes? DO NOT therefore RT non professional items, tweet when pi**ed or comment on controversial matters – unless clearly stressing once again that THESE ARE YOUR PERSONAL THOUGHTS.

 

  • Be very cautious about the language you use on a public account – regardless of the nature. Far too often people appear in my timeline writing inappropriate things – I have followed them because they want to be a ‘TV contact’ – I unfollow them and generally ignore them.

 

  • Do not abuse contacts – don’t assume that someone is ‘ignoring you’ and then hassle them – they may well be busy and by the time they get around to reading your tweets about how you are ignoring them, instead of a reply, you get a block!

 

  • Don’t say a bad word that rhymes with rat – some people don’t like it.

 

Thanks Lou for passing on that salutary lesson! Go forth and network but do so with caution and care. Have you come a cropper by using a social networking site? Got any stories of your own to add? Do let us know by leaving a comment below. And do pass on this article by using the social sharing buttons below. Many thanks!

11 comments

  • Fiona McLean says:

    It could be worse, my Dad’s ex girlfriend who was a primary school teacher told one of her pupils not to be such a silly word that rhymes with rat not actually knowing that it was a frowned upon word…she got in big trouble too!

    I will think more carefully about what I tweet from now on and possibly take out my recent review of Prometheus!

  • Sean O'Brien says:

    I’m sorry, I’m sure I’m being very stupid but what is the word that rhymes with rat?!

  • Beyond says:

    “not a universally naughty word such as a crude reference to a body part ”

    In that case, I’m assuming it’s not the word Shu guessed above. :P

    • Shu says:

      Ah – well this is a good game, isn’t it?!! Guess the word that rhymes with ‘rat’…. Surely not prat? Not enough to cause offence…?

  • Sean O'Brien says:

    Oh right yeah. Sorry, I’m moving house tomorrow so right now my mind is totally… Erm… Rhymes with plucked.

  • Ken Goodwin says:

    Words which were once offensive often mellow with time but their original meanings still lurk, an etymological quagmire ready to trap the unsuspecting. The T word means something very different from the “idiot” it is now thought to signify. May I also cite “berk”, a word now regarded as almost quaintly 1970s-sitcom-inoffensive. But a peek at a rhyming slang dictionary will show its original meaning would have had your maiden aunt choking on her Vera Lynn and London Philharmonic.

    • Shu says:

      Thank you, Ken – this is exactly what we need around here. Someone who knows his Berk from his Bacharach!

  • Lou says:

    What I should have said was not meant as a crude reference to a body part… *whistles*

  • […] Of course social media can get you into trouble as our friend Lou Gallagher found to her cost (read her blog post!). […]

  • CG says:

    “Don’t blur the use of your social network site” is a good point above.

    If you want both the social and networking benefits of Twitter, get two accounts. Many people have separate work/personal email accounts or even mobiles now. If you have the Twitter mobile application or a client like TweetDeck it’s easy to switch between the two accounts.

    The first is your ‘work’ account – use this for networking, insightful comments on the industry, following colleagues etc. This one needs the “views are my own” disclaimer.

    The second is your ‘personal’ account. Protect your account (the padlock icon will show) – this means you have to approve each follower and that noone can RT your tweets. Then you can tweet pissed, use words that rhyme with rat, etc. Obviously don’t use your full name or details that can identify you for this one as the account will still show up in search results, and in other people’s “following” lists.

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