TrafficZoom Blog

Neil Vermillion

4 Key Principles Never to Violate in Social Media

While it’s true there is more than one way to manage a social media based on branding, style, goals, and individual voice, there are also some core principles that are more universal which everyone involved in social media should keep in mind.


A classic example of this would be the recent meltdown by Applebee’s in which Applebee’s single-handedly flushed their reputation right down the toilet right in front of the Internet. Regardless of one’s opinion on the incident that spawned this conversation and uproar, the key takeaways for social media managers are clear. Better to learn from the mistakes of others, than to learn them yourself from experience.


Here are 4 key principles of social media that everyone should be aware of (if you aren’t already):


1. Never argue, especially on social media.


Of course we all know that engagement and conversation lies at the heart and foundation of interacting with one’s audience and market. In these kinds of instances not everyone is going to agree, but arguing isn’t going to convince anyone or persuade people. It actually has the opposite effect, not only invigorating the original commenter, but also attracting other like-minded peeps. So what you end up with is not any kind of reconciliation, but instead a group of disgruntled people unified in their feelings. Instead of arguing it’s best to simply acknowledge the comment, or ignore the comment. Arguing only adds fuel to the fire.


2. Don’t delete comments.


While no one likes to get lam-blasted, deleting comments always looks tacky. All of these conversations are happening in a virtually-public setting so attempting to sweep them under the rug isn’t going to solve anything. Those same individuals will know they’ve been censored and will likely come back for revenge armed with more negative energy and an even bigger megaphone with which they will release their full “fury”.


It’s also a bit of a faux paux in that it communicates to your audience that you’ll tolerate what they say, as long as it’s good. If it gets a bit nasty, your stuff gets deleted, this never empowers empathy or understanding within the audience. Instead, people feel they’ve not been heard, not been listened to, and that their opinion in fact doesn’t matter – all of which are the exact opposite of what successful interactions with the audience should foster.


3. Copy and paste responses don’t help – fast is slow with people.


Almost as bad as simply deleting comments is to copy and paste the exact same statement repeatedly. It might be “efficient” in that you can cover quite a bit of ground without having to actually think or invest the time or thought of composing a unique response, but this “efficiency” will end up costing you more. This kind of behavior will always backfire because it clearly demonstrates that the audience is not being listened to in a quality manner. Copy and paste responses are for robots, not active members. If people care enough to take the time to comment, they are also going to care enough to want a legitimate response.


Rather than copying and pasting the exact same response it would have been better to allow people to express their opinion and collect those concerns to find the common themes, and then address those. In the case with Facebook, individuals can be tagged so that they know you are responding to them, and will walk away feeling treated more with respect than simply a robot receiving an automated-copy-and-paste reply.


4. If/when you make mistakes, don’t deny them and lie about them.


Denial doesn’t work, and the members of the Internet won’t forget it. These are not isolated, secret interactions. In fact, they can be quite the opposite, so it’s important not to try to squelch the situation and do “damage control” by lying about it. Again, this only adds fuel to the fire making it seem as though you have something to hide and are desperate – so desperate in fact that you’re willing to lie about a mistake rather than facing the situation.


Lying and denying won’t work. In the ever-so-public medium of social media everything is happening under a potential spotlight, so better to just face the music rather than try to be a coward and deny it. It does more damage than any good.


These are 4 key principles everyone should keep in mind regardless of your industry. I’m sure there are more that could be extracted from this most recent debacle.


What are some of the other lessons that could be learned from the Applebee’s meltdown? Tell us your thoughts by continuing the conversation on Twitter.

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