When someone is a public figure–be it a movie star, musician, politician, or professional athlete–how he or she interacts with fans and followers on different social networks can be a tricky affair.

Mike Commodore TweetThis past weekend we saw Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Commodore provide us with both an example of how not to act on Twitter and then how to make up for a mistake. He received a tweet from a fan that took a jab at his lack of playing time and took offence to it. He retweeted the tweet (pictured at left), but preceded the post with a type of response that a public figure should never do.

This begs the question: What is an appropriate way for public figures to respond to criticism in social media? Clearly, the way Commodore responded is not the correct way. Throwing profanity in the direction of a fan is not a good way to boost his public image. (The tweet has since been deleted.) What he should have done was taken the tweet in stride and either a) not said anything to the fan at all, or b) not included the F-word in his response.

Personally, I have no problem with a public figure responding to criticisms or negative comments. In fact, I welcome it. But the manner in which Commodore responded was completely inappropriate. But wait…there is something positive that comes from all of this.

The day after his original response, Commodore apologized to the fan he responded to by tweeting, “I do have a sense of humor. Although u deserved it I will apologize for my language. My bad. I take it back. #Inappropriate.” He then followed it up with, “… Caught me at a weak moment …”

And while it is admirable that he took the high road and apologized, there are two things that should have never happened in the first place, a) dropping the F-bomb to a fan, and b) deleting his original tweet. We all know what was said anyway.

In short, we can take a few things away from this incident. First, public figures should be careful how they interact with their fans and followers to prevent a situation like this from occurring. It’s bad PR when something like this happens. And perhaps the most important lesson, is when something unfortunate like this happens, public figures should handle it like Commodore did and take the high road and apologize.

Tell us what do you think, was Commodore wrong to react the way he did?

Update 5:24p.m.: Commodore sent two tweets to TM in response to our blog post saying, “Read ur article. Pretty good. I disagree with the part about deleting the tweet being a bad thing though….reason I deleted…” and, “it was I didn’t want any kids to stumble upon it. That was the only reason. wasn’t trying to cover my tracks at all.”

This is a very classy move by Commodore. It shows that when people make mistakes online, sometimes all it takes to fix it is a little professionalism.

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