Unfortunately, glowing comments on TripAdvisor.ca convinced me to pay a visit to this business, but my experience did not mirror the online praise and left me feeling angry. I considered slipping a little barbed wire kiss amongst those positive comments, maybe hiding behind a pseudonym. Eventually I decided not to take the passive aggressive route because I know how powerful words can be. It’s hard running a small business in my neighborhood and maybe the owner was just having a bad day – and maybe I was too.
Instead I called the business and we had a grown up discussion about my experience, I received an apology and got a partial refund for my service. We ended the call on a cheerful note and I will go back.
Part of the reason I chose the direct route is the power of social media. It scares me and fascinates me in equal measure. As of late, I’ve seen some pretty extreme examples — but the one I saw late last month shocked me.
A Cleveland –based marketing practitioner created a social media tsunami after she wrote a rejection letter via her LinkedIn email to a 26-year old job seeker who wanted to join her local PR and marketing job bank. I won’t go into all the details, which you can read here, but the job seeker created a screen grab of the rejection email and posted it on a number of social media sites.
It went viral launching a hashtag on Twitter and stories on CNN, BBC and the Daily Mail in the UK, etc. Many of the reader comments on the stories were off the charts. One person hid behind a user name and said she hopes the marketing practitioner’s whole family dies of cancer and she is alive to watch.
What a tragic incident! The marketing practitioner has deleted any trace of a social media footprint, the job bank is no more, and both ladies are forever linked on Google for those who want to discover more about them. If only this had remained between the two parties. Words are powerful, your reputation is priceless, and social media is the most powerful communication tool we’ve ever created.
This hit a little too close to home for me because both of these ladies are from my industry. My recent social media experience has prompted me to craft these reminders to myself as I continue to navigate our online world.
1. How would this look in a headline? This is a litmus test we use in PR. If you’re having second thoughts about whether you should post or tweet something, you need to picture it as a headline in your favourite newspaper – the one your mother reads.
2. Be careful what you put in writing – When I was very young someone told me not to commit anything potentially contentious to writing because you never know where it could end up and be misinterpreted. Nothing could be truer today. Everything we write and post reflects on our good reputation.
3. Sleep on it - You are charged up with emotion, dying to express your opinion in writing, and you are ready to press ‘send’– don’t do it. Walk away from your computer. Shift your energy to something else. We have all been there. Things will look different in the morning and that Recall Message function in Outlook never works.
4. Nothing is private today – We all are prone to stupid things, like dancing as Elaine did on Seinfeld at a company event. We would never dream the memory could go viral. But anything goes today. We all need to be on guard for the person lurking in the shadows with the device that allows them to post content directly to social media. If you don’t believe me, ask my mayor Rob Ford.