13 social media lessons from Yogi Berra

You can apply much of his mangled wisdom to using online networks effectively. Oh, and when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Social media can learn a lot from baseball, particularly in terms of consistently practicing to improve your results and putting the greater good of the team and its community ahead your personal feelings.

One of the greatest players in baseball history, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra offered some great social media lessons in his well-known quotations throughout his 19-year Major League Baseball playing career, all with the New York Yankees, and during and after his days as a manager.

Brimming with malapropisms and lopsided logic, Yogi Berra’s often funny sayings provide useful social media insights. Here are 13 of his quotes and their related social media lessons.

1. “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Before jumping into social media, spend time listening to the conversation. Understand where participants’ focus is and what their concerns are. Bear in mind that social media isn’t another one-way broadcast channel where you can blast your promotions.

2. “It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.” There’s a lot of noise on social media, and participants may not pay attention to your interactions the way you’d expect. It’s important to determine which mentions and conversations require a company response.

3. “If the fans don’t come out to the ballpark, you can’t stop them.” On social media, you can’t force consumers to engage with your business. Remember they’re on social media to socialize. Further, most consumers connect with a business only to get the promotional offer.

4. “If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” Berra had it right. Transparency is crucial on social media platforms to build relationships based on respect. This requires knowing what you don’t know rather than vamping. Further, being open and transparent doesn’t mean divulging confidential company information about your business or your customers.

5. “Anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked.” Popularity has always bred jealousy. On social media networks, some people are jealous of others who have lots of followers and fans and related influence. Many of these social media elite (in terms of the number of followers and friends) have built their popularity outside social media as rock stars and actors.

6. “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.” Though there may be a grain of truth in the rumors that fly around the social media ecosystem, you should avoid contributing to the information feeding frenzy. Refrain from the desire to spread misinformation in your lust to be an information source. You need to be careful and not fuel the gossip mongering.

7. “Never answer anonymous letters.” Instead of letters, social media is filled with anonymous comments, many of them negative. Occasionally, a respondent keeps ranting without reason. If this happens, stop engaging.

8. “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.” Berra’s fracturing of the word humidity provides insights for businesses on social media. You must always respect others on these platforms. Don’t assume that you know your audience’s perspective. They may have a very different frame of reference, language, and/or belief system. Remember, social media has a social responsibility.

9. “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.” Because social media is today’s 24×7 news channel, businesses must be ready to respond with real-time PR to issues related to their business, brand, executives, or competitors.

10. “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” On social media, there’s always the potential for a flare-up that will have an impact on your business. What’s important is being prepared with a PR crisis plan.

11. “We made too many wrong mistakes.” With instantaneous communications from one small group to another, mistakes can’t be hidden for long. It’s important to come clean quickly and take the air out of the issue on social media. Admit any mistakes.

12. “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Berra understood that you had to play the entire game to know the final outcome. Similarly, you need to be present on social media for the long term. You can’t just run it once and stop.

13. “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Build your own social media presence, such as a blog. History has shown that once-hot social media platforms can become less relevant and fade from the center of consumers’ focus, as MySpace did.

In addition to providing a good laugh, Yogi Berra’s quotes hold true for social media. You need to get to know the participants on various social media platforms without interrupting their personal conversations. With all the interaction happening concurrently on social media, understand that difficult issues are bound to pop up. Therefore, be prepared with a PR crisis plan.

What are your favorite Yogi Berra quotes and why?

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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