“5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place” With Shannon Self

The long-term effects of shaming are very serious. Young people have no idea how hurtful and devastating online shaming can be. Parents need to monitor their kids and teach the importance of not doing it. If they chose not to, those kids turn into adults that have no idea what it means to take the […]

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The long-term effects of shaming are very serious. Young people have no idea how hurtful and devastating online shaming can be. Parents need to monitor their kids and teach the importance of not doing it. If they chose not to, those kids turn into adults that have no idea what it means to take the high road.

I had the pleasure to interview Shannon Self. Shannon went from being a student pastor at some of the largest churches in the country to being sought after by celebrities, athletes, musicians, news anchors and large brands. Shannon is a Fox News contributor and has been mentioned for his social strategies in the Huffington Post, Forbes, Fox411 and Fox Business. His highly intentional and relational marketing strategies quickly turned into being hired as a consultant for some of the fastest growing companies in the country. Shannon’s understanding of how social media works and talent to create viral content leaves everyone with an unforgettable experience. He is now the founder of a Dallas based digital marketing firm called The @TalariaAgency. Shannon is highly sought after by some of the biggest influencers in the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, Fox News Anchors, Music Artist, Radio Personalities and Authors. Shannon is also trusted in Corporate America having clients in the Real Estate Market, Fortune 500 , and Inc 500 networks.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Shannon! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

For the last 10 years, I was a student pastor at some of the largest churches in the country. The only way to effectively reach high school and middle school students was to use social media. We had to be very intentional and relational with what we posted. Anything that had an agenda, the students could sniff out a mile a way and not engage with the post. We created high energy, relatable content that the students loved and in turn was shared, reposted, commented and liked so much that students started showing up to our events because they saw our post on their friends feed. New students showing up to our events from our social media strategy is the best ROI EVER! Then friends of mine who owned companies saw our social media influence and began asking me if I can do the same thing for them, which is how the company started.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was running in downtown Dallas right as the sun was going down. I turned the corner and saw a huge Texas flag flapping in the wind and thought to myself, “Wow that flag is huge”! When I arrived back home, I started thinking, I wonder if the Texas flag has an Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Come to find out, it didn’t! Then I wondered if it has a website and of course, it didn’t! So created an account for it on each platform and bought . Now the Instagram account has over 100k followers which has created advertising revenue for my firm.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first launched the business, I had a Chick-fila account and we were killing it for them. Honestly, it happened way faster than I thought it would. The operator called me one morning and said “You’re about to get a game changer phone call so make sure you answer it”! Fifteen minutes later I get a call from an Atlanta area code and it turned out to be the marketing director over all the Chick-fila’s in the US. He told me what we’ve done in 3 months takes most locations 8–9 months to accomplish. He needed a 1700 store rollout starting from the east coast to the west coast. I told him I could have that send over to him in 2 weeks. I immediately hung up the phone, called one of my mentors and said “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A ROLL OUT PLAN IS”! Needless to say, he made me call the guy from Chick-fila and explain that my company had only been operational for 3 weeks and would have to slow that deal down. I learned two things that day, 1) No matter what the situation is, always to be transparent and honest 2) Always have a mentor that can help guide you.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re always working on new projects with our clients that help people directly and indirectly. We work alongside non-profits and it’s so rewarding to see their influence grow and being a small part of their story.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Have you ever been publicly shamed or embarrassed on social media? Can you share with our readers what that experience felt like?

Some friends of mine and I went to see a movie and when the title of it came up, I posted a photo of it in a bragging way because it was the premier. At the time, I was still on staff at a church and a ton of parents reached out because they were very upset about me seeing this movie because it was R rated! One lady noted “You don’t deserve to be a pastor, R rated movies are not allowed in my house and my child will not be allowed to come to your church”! I felt so horrible and couldn’t even enjoy the movie or hanging out with my friends.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

I talked with my friends about what happened and they reminded me that I am a great person and I have to live my life according to my own moral code and no one else’s.

Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean?

Yes, to the lady that made the rude comment about me seeing the R rated movie, I responded back in a way that I wish I hadn’t.

Can you describe the evolution of your decisions? Why did you initially write the comment, and why did you eventually regret it?

I did everything in the wrong order. You never want to react fast to abusive comments. I reacted fast out of hurt and then because I got very angry and defensive.

When one reads the comments on Youtube or Instagram, or the trending topics on Twitter, a great percentage of them are critical, harsh, and hurtful. The people writing the comments may feel like they are simply tapping buttons on a keyboard, but to the one on the receiving end of the comment, it is very different. This may be intuitive, but I feel that it will be instructive to spell it out. Can you help illustrate to our readers what the recipient of a public online critique might be feeling?

I think it all depends on the recipient. I tell our clients to beware of trollers and hateful people. You have no idea what someone is going through behind the scenes. There has to be a level of self-control and try finding the best in others, even when they are rude.

Do you think a verbal online attacks feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?

I would have to say anything online feels escalated because everything said is very public. If you say the wrong thing back to someone that you know you shouldn’t, try and go back to delete it and the other person took a screenshot of it, there’s nothing you can do to retract it. Not to mention that other people can jump into the conversation that weren’t originally in the conversation.

What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?

The long-term effects of shaming are very serious. Young people have no idea how hurtful and devastating online shaming can be. Parents need to monitor their kids and teach the importance of not doing it. If they chose not to, those kids turn into adults that have no idea what it means to take the high road.

Many people who troll others online, or who leave harsh comments, can likely be kind and sweet people in “real life”. These people would likely never publicly shout at someone in a room filled with 100 people. Yet, on social media, when you embarrass someone, you are doing it in front of thousands of even millions of people, and it is out there forever. Can you give 3 or 4 reasons why social media tends to bring out the worst in people; why people are meaner online than they are in person?

1) It’s not face to face so people become more aggressive.

2) You can become whoever you want to be online and no one will ever know who you really are.

3) People think they can say anything to anyone with no consequences.

If you had the power to influence thousands of people about how to best comment and interact online, what would you suggest to them? What are your “5 things we should each do to help make social media and the internet, a kinder and more tolerant place”? Can you give a story or an example for each?

I would make sure they know the importance of being proactive instead of reactive.

1) Give advice that is positive and applicable.

2) Be transparent and not just about your wins but your losses. When you are transparent, more people will be able to relate with you.

3) Don’t be negative … no matter what is going on always be positive.

4) Ask for people’s advice or opinions. Doing that will create a place where people feel comfortable expressing things.

5) Always be responsive to people’s comments. Even highlight some of the best advice or feedback. This will create a sense of ownership and allow people to feel like they belong.

If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?

I would create more content that tells the story of people who have been attacked and create incentive-based opportunities for people who create positive content.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If there is a need …. you fill it! My dad taught me at a very early age how important it was to ALWAYS be honest and work hard. I remember being in 6th grade and him making me mow not only our yard but 3 of our neighbors yards for free because they were elderly. I was so mad when he made me do it. I asked why he was making me do all of that work for free. I’ll NEVER FORGET when he said: “Shannon, if you see someone that’s struggling, you help no questions asked! “So you’re gonna mow their yard and ask for nothing in return.” That moment changed my outlook on life.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Kobe Bryant for sure! He’s one of the greatest basketball players ever and his views on work ethic is insane. Now he’s involved in corporate America in the VC funding arena.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @shannonself Twitter: @self24 Facebook: /shannondself

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