How we use our social media accounts matter

Jeffry Cadorette

By Jeffry Cadorette, past RI director and chair of Rotary International’s Communications Committee

Most of us have social media accounts that we use to promote Rotary. In our network are Rotary friends, but also family, friends, and colleagues outside of Rotary. This is all very good.

Many of our profile banners include a stamp that says “Proud Member” or “End Polio Now” along with our mark of excellence, the Rotary logo. We have photos of club events we attended (from the time when we could attend events in person). Our posts go to both members and those outside the Rotary family.

What could be wrong with that?

Unfortunately, on more occasions than I’d like to admit, I have seen posts come across my smartphone or laptop from a member who has resigned from their club and is airing a list of “dirty laundry” about their club in the form of gripes and complaints. They are right and their erstwhile club is in the wrong. They chose this forum to wage battle with their club president, district governor, or Rotary International leadership.

Social media posts that air club “dirty laundry” damage Rotary’s public image.

In all of these examples, our brand, and the public’s understanding of who we are, is tarnished.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of people who decide to take their ball and go home, tearing down an organization behind them on their way out. That is just ego.

A similar problem occurs when we use our social media accounts, the same ones with all of our Rotary branding on it, to share our deep-seated political views on divisive subjects. These posts are followed by endless comments which all too often spiral into something downright ugly.

Rotary is supposed to be apolitical. But to both our Rotary friends and those on the outside, that line is blurred as they see these posts and the ensuing comment threads, and our brand can suffer.

I am not suggesting trampling on anyone’s right to free speech. But I am simply asking that you use some discretion and judgement when you choose to post your political opinions from the same account that you use to promote Rotary.

We have 1.2 million brand ambassadors in our organization. You are one of them. We need each of you and all of you to promote and protect our brand and increase the public’s awareness and understanding of us.

So please use good judgment when you post on social media. We have an incredible communications team on staff in Evanston and Rotary Public Image Coordinators (RPIC’s) to help you.

Visit the Brand Center for tools and resources that will help you promote Rotary on social media. Know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.

12 thoughts on “How we use our social media accounts matter

  1. Policing online content is quite a poor message to send and shows Rotary as out of touch with the modern age. This could’ve been a good article if it focused more on how to have constructive and peaceful debate in the open, thereby tackling the cause rather than the medium. If we ask Rotary members to refrain from public debate, we’ll just end up with greater retention issues – it’s as if we haven’t learnt anything over the past 10 years as this is not a new issue, and I’ve seen too many members leave because they have to listen to unelected Rotarians “tell them off”. This isn’t the way the modern age works, and neither is it the way young adults work.

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  2. This is a great article Jeffrey. However I would like to provide a different perspective, especially to your comment about disagreeing with people “who take their bat and ball and go home”.

    I love Rotary but I was placed in a position where I had no alternative but leave my Club – if only for the good of my own wellbeing. I transferred to another Club following 16 months of bullying and conflict. I was labelled a troublemaker because I asked questions about club expenditure, pointed out mistakes/errors, and spoke up about possible discrimination against disabled members. While doing my grocery shopping, I was threatened with “expulsion” and being reported to the District Governor. Then the DG rang me and told me to report to a Conflict Resolution session, but gave no details of what was to be discussed. I was to attend a meeting without knowing what was to be discussed or who would be in attendance. I did not even have time to adequately prepare for this meeting.

    I didn’t tear down Rotary on my way out and my reasons for leaving were for the sake of my health, and sanity, not my ego. It was the most toxic environment I have ever experienced. I tried to put my views forward and explain what I perceived as a problem – eg falling membership, new members not staying, ageing membership, lack of diversity, small group controlling the Club, refusal to address ideas/ change or take them on board, and things I can’t mention here. The answer was always the same – just do what you’re told.

    The final straw for me involved a matter where there were possible grounds for a case of discrimination by one of our disabled members. I decided “enough was enough”!

    I believe that some times we must speak up. Otherwise Rotary gets a bad name. Unless people speak up, nothing will change. And, sometimes, social media is the only platform available.

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    • Anne Marie: I hope you have found a better fit now, this is similar to what we say in Youth Exchange when a student and family can’t work it out “It’s not that the student is bad, it’s not that the host family is bad, it just wasn’t a good fit” Good luck on your Rotary travels and keep questioning! Just because it has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

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  3. I totally agree Jeff. We must exercise the Four Way Test and we can ensure our emotions overcome our rationality. Very well said. Let us be mindful. Thanks.

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  4. It helps if your post tells some sort of story also. Pictures of Rotary meetings with people looking bored is not a good image.

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  5. It is an excellent topic to discuss about. The person who might dislike me for some other reason can link that to my Rotary engagement and hamper Rotary’s image.

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  6. This a great article and a reminder about how important our posts are in representing ourselves appropriately. As Rotarians we are ambassadors of disease eradication during the pandemic and the wearing of masks as clubs portray service and club gatherings on their club social media pages is incredibly important. Thanks Jeff for this valuable post.

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  7. Pingback: How we use our social media accounts matter | Rotary Club - AIRC

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