Why Your Rant is Not Right for Social Media

by Jennifer Beever

Social Media Magnifying GlassSocial media is not a place to express anger or admonish people publicly. It is a place to add value, have conversations, and express opinions, even if you disagree.

The Sendgrid tweet incident

A recent incident at a technology conference provided a good reminder why you should never use social media for a rant. Basically, a woman attending the conference was offended by sexual comments made by two men sitting behind her. She took a picture of the men and tweeted it to the conference organizers asking them to do something. She has 12,000 followers.

The tweet sparked a firestorm online, including hate messages to the woman. In the end one of the men got fired from his job, the woman got fired and her company, which provides email service to customers, was subject to a denial-of-service attack in which attackers typically “saturate the {company’s server] with external communications requests” (Wikipedia) to block legitimate customer transactions. You can read more details about the incident in the article, Sendgrid employee’s tweet sets off firestorm.

The desire to rant is natural

I noticed when I first started writing my blog that sometimes I wanted to rant about certain situations. Clients behaving badly (or not the way I expected, LOL) or colleagues acting without integrity were some situations that made me want to rant. But the place for addressing “wrongs,” especially if they are perceived, is not on the Internet for all to see. These situations either warrant a conversation with the perpetrator or with trusted advisors who can reason things out and perhaps counsel you or the injured party about next actions and how to handle angry feelings.

Focus on integrating private and work lives

I thought Mike Volpe made some good comments on this event in a recent Hubspot Weekly Marketing Update, available as a podcast or online as a video. (Watch/listen to the last few minutes.) He said that both sides involved could have acted differently: 1.) the two men (who were wearing shirts with their company logo when they made the sexual comments – ouch!) shouldn’t have said what they said, and 2.) the woman could have taken some action other than tweeting her outrage. Mike went on to explain that at his company, Hubspot, they focus not on the separation of private and work life in social media, but on integration, because what you do on both sides can come back to bite you on the Internet.

Keep it “Light, Bright and Polite”

In the words of Josh Ochs, MediaLeaders, “Keep your social media ‘Light, Bright and Polite.'” Light, Bright and Polite is name of the book that Josh recently published, and he defines “polite” as the following:

“[Polite] means that you and/or your brand would be proud of the message if it were to be posted on a billboard the next day for thousands of people to see. Your tweets should outlast the week, month and year. Keep them polite so you’re proud of them if they end up on a billboard for your parents to see or your boss finds your posts in the future.”

p. 10, Light, Bright and Polite, by Josh Ochs

So, if you find yourself wanting to rant on social media, take a moment to consider the results. If you are not adding value or representing your brand and yourself in a positive way (or if it’s even possible you will be perceived negatively), don’t do it!

Do you need help with your social media campaigns? Contact Jennifer Beever at New Incite today. She has helped many individuals, companies and organizations launch their social media presence successfully.


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