Action, Reaction, and Overreaction

With so much interaction and general chatter happening online these days, brand management is something that must be planned, worked, and reworked on a consistent basis.

This past week, I encountered two different kinds of people on Twitter. One was a guy who decided that the best way to pass the time was to terrorize women on the site, repeatedly asking them “how much for a ___ and a ___” (insert your own sexual act in the blank). Those who responded got snubbed as being stupid (because, after all, all women are stupid) or ignored. The other guy had a fact about him posted online and instead of letting it go, decided that the best course of action was overreaction.

In both cases, understanding how social networks work is helpful. In the case of the keyboard warrior, ignoring him was the best recourse for most women – in fact, in one instance he actually taunted a woman for not blocking him fast enough. Once you understood that his modus operandi was to just be annoying, it was easy to not take anything he said seriously.

In the case of the oversensitive boy, he was on the other side of the fence. He took what was said in a Twitter timeline and overreacted, making a situation potentially worse than it was. Ignoring would have been his best course of action; instead, by drawing attention to it, he not only made himself look like he was craving attention but also as though his ego was fragile. Ultimately he risked hurting his own reputation by the way he reacted.

What people forget most about social networks is that time heals, and heals extremely quickly given the speed of things on the internet. Let enough time pass, and the threat passes. Engage the threat, and you potentially not only escalate matters but also make it more public. And the more people you have following you, you have a compounded responsibility to make sure that you are not only managing you own brand but also being an example to others as to how to be a good online communicator, even in times of chaos and drama.

You know, it’s a lot like high school. A rumor, bad comment, or verbal terrorist attack spreads like wildfire. Likewise, good comments and recommendations spread as well. It’s up to you (and your PR firm/Community Manager) as to how either managed. Remember what your parents told you – ignore the bullies and make friends with the good people, and you’ll go far. Don’t, and, well… don’t.