Deborah Lee
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Hold That Rant! Five Points to Consider Before You Let Rip on Social Media


We all know how it feels to be on the receiving end of bad service, and without doubt the realisation that you’ve been duped is one of the most irritating sensations known to man.

There’s no two ways about it … some things really do seem quite unjust. Indeed, some actually are unjust.

But thanks to today’s technology, it’s almost too easy to grab our smartphone and let the world know exactly how unfair we feel it is, if we’re so inclined and are blessed with a stable broadband connection. Once we publish our outrage to where scores of like-minded people are gathering en masse, we’ve possibly got something that has every chance of going viral.

Tap into the emotions of the public, use a few inflammatory words and bingo; you’re on the way to starting your very own virtual protest march.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of the need for transparency that social platforms bring, but the time is approaching when caution needs to be applied for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

Just because you can say it on social media doesn’t mean you should

We all need to keep our own counsel on social channels, and it’s going to become increasingly critical that we remember this as organisations take legal steps to protect themselves from ill-founded accusations made online. The fashion for recording our innermost thoughts and moments of angst needs to become outdated pretty quickly (and trust me, nothing you say online is as private as you might think it is).

Have you explored ‘the usual channels’ before unleashing your tweet-storm?

I’ve heard many tales of how companies first got to hear about a customer complaint via a very loud, attention-grabbing post on Twitter or the like. Of course anyone is well within their rights to do that … but is it strictly fair? Wouldn’t it be advisable to attempt to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion out of the public eye first? A reasonable and fair-minded person might think so …

Never stray from the black-and-white facts

Exaggeration or embroidering the truth is not only ill-advised, it’s tantamount to fiction. If you must recall your experience, stick to exactly what happened.

Consider the impact that ‘bad press’ can have

Larger organisations are often well-placed to deal with negative customer feedback; indeed it is part of their everyday operation (we hope). But whilst smaller companies may be able to respond quickly with a solution, they could also suffer longer lasting damage at the hands of someone who wants to do them down. Brand supporters may still be few and far between, and so the smaller company may find recovery much harder from such an attack (and believe me, to them it will feel like an attack)

Give thought to who might be observing your outburst

This is possibly the most important point of all to consider. Most of us at some time apply for mortgages or bank loans, or look to secure new clients or new careers. It’s becoming increasingly popular for background checks on individuals to be performed online, so consider the content of your social footprint and what it says about you. No matter how just you may consider your points to be, they may not reflect well on you in the longterm and possibly could cost you far more than you’re willing to pay.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that because we refer to ‘social’ media, that it’s an easy-going, forgiving arena that we can treat like our own local cyber bar where all opinions are welcome. It’s nothing like that.

The temptation to name and shame may be great, but doing so may have consequences that greatly outweigh any satisfaction it brings.

I help companies protect their online reputation; email me for more details.

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