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Reverse SMACSS: When the bosses are the problem

(NOTE: Seventeen-year-old STATter911 Junior says I blew this one. Sam points out this is not reverse Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS). He believes Social Media Assisted Career Homicide Syndrome (SMACHS) is a much better description. Sam has a point.)

More than four years ago created SMACSS (Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome) to help identify social media activity hazardous to someone’s job security. Today is proud to announce a new designation — the reverse SMACSS.

Reverse SMACSS helps us identify a boss or bosses so humorless or stupid they can’t see that an employee’s possibly controversial social media post is actually beneficial to the organization.

To fully understand a reverse SMACSS I urge you to read Brandi Bottalico’s article in The Frederick News-Post about Katie Nash, the “web experience coordinator” hired in November by Maryland’s Frederick County Public Schools. Katie Nash has already lost her job thanks to a tweet a week ago.

So, exactly what was so outrageous and insensitive that Katie Nash is out of work? I will let you read for yourself. Here’s the shocking tweet that came in response to a student’s inquiry about a possible snow day.

MD Frederick County twitter schools
I had to read the tweet numerous times and Brandi Bottalico’s article twice in an effort to figure out what I was missing. The best I can tell is that I’m not missing much. But it appears Katie Nash’s bosses are missing quite a few things in addition to the previously mentioned sense of humor and smarts.

Apparently those in charge at Frederick County Public Schools don’t understand that the “social” part of “social media” is about engaging with the audience. Nash, in her brief time tweeting for FCPS, did engage. And she engaged with a very tough audience — public school students.

According to the news coverage, in addition to the firing of Katie Nash, the tweet above and other similar messages from Nash have since been deleted.

The people in charge, according to a previous article, just didn’t see the more lighthearted responses by Nash as meeting the mission of the organization. It appears the audience sees it differently:

The response from Nash’s FCPS tweet garnered more than 1,000 retweets and 1,000 likes and she became the subject of a hashtag, #KatiefromFCPS. And later #freekatie also appeared in students’ Twitter feeds after a report from local TV station WHAG-TV that Twitter access had been taken away from her.

After the “tamarrow/tomorrow” thread, Nash and the student exchanged other tweets. The student later wrote that he didn’t mind Nash’s original reply and didn’t take it personally.

Nash had similar interactions with other students who tweeted their pleas for schools to close.

Read the entire article

There will be corporate or government social media people who will now warn me of the dangers of using humor on Twitter or tweeting something that doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the organization. And there is also the possibility that the student Katie Nash responded to could end up being attacked by trolls. All of that is true. But with the reactionary, overly sensitive environment of today, even the most innocent tweet can have someone demanding to know why there wasn’t a trigger warning. Should that always be the audience we cater to?

Social media can be a high wire act. Getting attention to your message and encouraging engagement while presenting the right image for the organization is very much about striking a balance — whether the concern is over humor or about what information to tweet.  Too much in one direction and no one is paying attention. Too much the other way and it’s two somersaults and a splat time.

If this tweet is what really is behind the fall of Katie Nash it appears to me someone prematurely sent in the clowns and, in doing so, triggered our very first reverse SMACSS alert.

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