Social media – The dark side we all know about

Social media is no longer a tool you should including in your marketing strategy – It is an essential requirement for every single business, from individual sole traders to multi-national large corporations. It is a core component to our marketing machine and when used effectively it is a powerful weapon. However, social media, which we all know, has a dark side and when exposed it truly is a toxic medium for the wrong people to channel their negativity and bad will.

A harsh statement some might say, but I am speaking from experience. Not my personal experience, but from the experience of a professional colleague of mine who is at the top of his game in terms of his profession. I have no intention in stating who or what profession it is as this post is not about exposing anyone or any group. Instead, this post is a warning to anyone using social media, namely twitter, to promote, market and sell their business. There is a dark side to it.

A very high percentage of businesses and companies now recognise and understand the importance of social media. Digital marketing is here to stay whether we like it or not. If you aren’t on it, you can be sure your competition is, and you can be sure they are benefiting from it. Like, share, comment, favourite, pin etc – engagement is the key to a successful digital marketing strategy. However, unlike large company accounts, which are run by digital marketing gurus in the background, personal brands are far more vulnerable to the evils of social media. The most vicious of these hangs around Twitter. When Twitter is good, it’s great. However, when its bad, its dark and can be toxic!

280 characters can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of hurt and stress to someone and their brand. Twitter is, for all intents and purposes, an unregulated soap box. Yes, you can block and report disparaging tweets and people from your account, but it is of little comfort when the keys have been tapped and the ‘tweet’ button clicked. Once it has been put out there, it’s out there for all to see, read, share and comment on. It also allows people to form uneducated opinions.

Recently, a colleague of mine was subjected to such an attack. It was a nasty calculating attack on them and their profession that was unprovoked and unwarranted. It had no basis other than the fact that it was aimed at damaging their reputation and profession all because of a different professional viewpoint. Having different professional views can be healthy but it does not warrant personal and professional slander on a social media platform. As stressful and difficult as it was, my friend rose above it and didn’t engage and is a better person and professional for it.

So, what to do if you or your brand is attacked on twitter? Well here is my advice based solely on recent events.

1) Don’t engage. Having an argument over twitter is pointless. There is never a winner and much like having an argument in public, everyone sees it and can also row in with their own opinion without having the facts!

2) Block accounts. You can very easily block someone from seeing what you tweet. They will no longer see anything that you tweet, and they can no longer access your account. However, be warned – This does not stop them having a pop at you and tagging others in the process. It also prevents you from viewing their account. Sometimes it is better to keep a close eye on your enemies!

3) Seek legal advice. There are several good media solicitors that have experience in social media. Consulting such a solicitor is a well spent couple of hundred euro/pounds/dollars if a twitter attack is unfairly damaging your business, reputation and/or livelihood. If you think content is libel or slanderous then have a consultation.

4) Have perspective. So as much as this may be a contradiction to all that I have written above, it is important to know there is a world outside Twitter. When an attack is happening to you on twitter it is very difficult to see the wood for the trees. Step away from it, give it a break and breath.

5) Most importantly – Whatever you do, whatever your experience on twitter and other social media channels are, do onto others as you would like them to do onto you! Stay positive and if you must be critical let it be constructive conversational criticism. There is enough stress in business without adding to it through social media.

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