the big social problem

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Is there a big social problem with how we interact?
Image of boxing gloves and social mediaAlthough social media users have the power to share, they should be careful what they say and do online.  There are many examples of how social media users who have abused that power.  I’m talking about personal and brand attacks in social media streams.

This morning, one of my favourite reporters I follow on twitter was a recipient of such an attack. He responded with dignity and professionalism – as you would only expect from a seasoned journalist.  I later logged into LinkedIn only to witness yet another online response to a Q&A, which was in my opinion, uncalled for and lacked the professionalism I would expect from the contributor who I read often, (but won’t so much anymore).

I  have clients who are reluctant to integrate social media as a part of their PR strategy. Why haven’t they taken the plunge?  Simply stated, they’re afraid of it.  The transparency of free and open discussion that defines social media scares the
(H… E… double hockey sticks) out of them!  And when this sort of thing happens, can you really blame them? There is a fine line between a debate and an argument and when it turns ugly, in a matter of seconds – moral character is damaged and reputations destroyed. Who wins?  Is it the one who threw the first punch, whose original point is now obscured?  Or is it the victim, who turns out to be not so innocent with the integrity of response?

I am the biggest advocate of social media in PR and what it can do for people and organizations. This observation, which seems to be more frequent as of late, has not deterred me from participating or encouraging clients to engage in social media, but I did have a light bulb moment!  It occurred to me that although I have twitter etiquette posted, I did not have a contribution policy for my blog.  That has now changed.

Many believe that there is a distinction between brands and people.  Personally and professionally, I don’t agree. @storyline is my own personal brand, for example.  Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and mine is that engaging in attacks is bad PR, for both your reputation and your brand. I believe you should always, ALWAYS, respond to negative comments with professionalism.   I also highly recommend you post a social media policy.  If you don’t have one, create one.  Here is a link to some big brand policies that you might find inspirational.

What do you think? Is there a need for a new approach to social media etiquette?   What steps will you take to protect your personal brand?

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2 thoughts on “the big social problem

  1. Great timing on writing this post.

    I was recently interviewed by My Talk 107.1 and this was one of the issues that came up with respect to Social Media. There seems to be this inherent fear that exists for many around having someone personally attack their comments or opinions on line.

    While I have not had this happen directly to me, I have had someone misinterpret a comment intended as a joke on Facebook as being serious and I received a bit of a “defensive” response.

    When this happened I had two choices. 1) behave like a school child and fight back 2) clarify and apologize that my comment had been misinterpreted.

    I chose the latter. My belief is you cannot interpret tone in an email, nor can you from a comment left on a post. Taking on an adversary publicly makes you look bad. Plain and simple. I have chosen not to engage in negative interactions on line so when someone tries to “engage” in that manner, I politely try and diffuse the situation.

    When something like this happens, my belief is that the dialogue is better served face to face. For some reason, people often forget there is another person sitting at their computer reading what you wrote, and that person has feelings.

  2. I always find that people are not used to the ‘heat’ of online debate, and that’s what scares people away more than anything. Building a brand takes a lot of hard work, and hearing people slag you on the net can be quite the confidence destroyer.

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