Melissa Alam | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Melissa Alam

Background:  

The Hive is a Philadelphia-based co-working space for ambitious women.

The Mistake:

I was the social media manager for a company when I was 22 years old, where I realized I talk before I think.

A friend of the company had a brain tumor and she had been sending out tweets with a certain hashtag. I wanted to use it and be involved. She had started to call her tumor, Steve. So, she was tweeting out, #FuckYouSteve. And to show support I used the hashtag too.

So, from the company's account I tweeted out, "We support you, Geraldine #FuckYouSteve." And the higher-ups went ballistic, it didn't go off well. I got an email right away to take it down and then I was on the shit list after that.

I ended up quitting, a week later, before they could fire me. Luckily, I was ready to move on and it helped me launch my freelance career. But I really learned from that...don't tweet before you think.

 

Make sure there are guidelines and you're given a role so that when or if something happens — it doesn’t backfire on you.

The Lesson:

That situation made me realize I needed to be more aware.

But, the bigger lesson I learned was you have to define your role. I never had any guidelines with that position, it was just you're going to run the social media — take over the accounts. Make sure there are guidelines and you're given a role so that when or if something happens — it doesn’t backfire on you. But, that experience has helped me develop my business strategy with clients today. Now, if I am given a task, I tell my clients, "This is exactly what I'm doing, nothing more, nothing less. This is how I am doing it."