Why Starting a Social Media Fight is (Almost Always) Bad for Your Business

When you see adults fighting in public what comes to mind? Unless you’re at an UFC fight, public outbursts (an affray) are generally frowned upon. The same holds...

When you see adults “fighting” in public what comes to mind?

In a literal sense, fighting in public is considered disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor offense in some states). Unless you’re at an UFC fight, public outbursts are generally frowned upon. The same holds true for social media – especially for small businesses.

And here’s why:

As human beings, if we perceive that a friend, a family member or even a business has harmed us intentionally we immediately feel justified in seeking recourse. For some, this is “by any means necessary” and for others it means antagonizing people and companies via social media. But as a small business owner, it’s important to take the higher road.

Why? Because your business (and reputation) depends on it!

Are Social Media Rants Justified?

Whether or not we get angry and take offense to a particular situation has to do with how we evaluate the situation. It’s what psychologists refer to as, “cognitive appraisal … we get angry when we appraise a situation as blameworthy, unjustified, punishable, etc.”

When it comes to business, while you may feel justified in bashing a company for not getting your order right, or having less than ideal business relations — in social media, the true affects of social outburst cast an unforgiving shadow over both parties.

According to Reputation.com, a reputation management service, “When you attack someone on the Web, your Internet reputation suffers. Why? Vindictive comments are a reflection of your problem-solving and interpersonal skills, not to mention your general maturity level …”

Simply put, “Slanderous or antagonistic comments can cause significant harm to your online reputation.”

How to Handle Social Media Conflicts

“First and foremost, don’t retaliate. Chances are the attacker’s online reputation is being hurt as much as yours. Engaging in an argument will probably only lead to reputation-damaging vitriol on both sides.”

Most importantly, “Defamatory or disparaging comments you make on the internet can come back to haunt you. Don’t be emboldened by thinking you’re anonymous,” according to Lawyers.com.

“Let’s get this straight. Web sites track IP addresses. Web sites will give up IP addresses to law enforcement and to subpoenas issued in civil cases. Your internet service provider will provide account details of IP addresses under the same circumstances. So what you say on the internet easily can be tracked to you.”


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