Would you walk up to someone you barely knew, and tell them you didn’t like their work?  Would you publicly criticize, make fun of, or be rude to relative strangers?  Probably not.   And yet every day, I see that type of behavior on twitter and other social media sites.  When I see it, I am perplexed, because I don’t see how anyone wins.

For me, social media is fun and business.  I have worked hard to build my personal brand as a marketing expert, but also as a person with a sense of humor and compassion. I support my friends, and local businesses, share content of interest and connect people who should know each other.  While I can, from time to time, use the medium to be critical of companies providing poor service, I don’t go out of my way to be nasty or rude for no reason.

My first rule of social media: I don’t say anything in print, I wouldn’t say in person.

So, I was surprised, when someone I hardly knew posted a tacky comment about a design by our intern Danny.  At 15 1/2 he is bright and talented, and running hard to play with folks significantly older then he is.  And… he holds his own.

So back to the tacky comment.  My first instinct was to shift into mother lion mode; attacking anyone who attacked one of my cubs.  ( I am, after all a mom).  But  I paused, remembering social media is about ego.  In this world, the worst thing you can do to anyone on social media, is to ignor them.  That is what I did.  Had I responded, I would have fueled the fire and given wider exposure to someone who didn’t deserve it.  Instead I simply engaged in conversations with others, and buried his comment in  a stream of more interesting content.

There are several important lessons here for anyone using social media for business.

  1. Watch you stream.
  2. If someone has a legitimate customer service issue (@buffalotech) be sure to respond in a timely manner.
  3. If they are just being a jerk ignore them, and if the offense is repeated, block them and move on.