Positively Managing A Social Media Mess


Whether you are a brand or an individual, social media is now second nature, everyone has it, everyone needs it and everyone knows it. Given that scenario, it is inevitable that tussles happen. It is a known and true observation that whenever people interact, there is scope for a misunderstanding or an argument or both. Social Media is just an extension of real life, hence these things tend to happen on Social Media too. In the event of one happening to you or your client/brand, you can manage it positively, or get carried away and get into hot water. Let us try and see how the former can be achieved.


As I see it, one of the following scenarios can lead to a tussle online

  1. You say something and a subscriber/follower interprets it in another sense and gets agitated
  2. You intended to say something and due to some reason, it came out as quite the opposite and hence a tussle begins
  3. You said something perfectly clearly, someone responded in a very aggressive and abusive manner and a mess happens
  4. You said nothing, someone intentionally abuses you and tries to start a potentially damaging conversation (mostly expletive ridden in this case)

Let’s take the first one, this happens more often than not. Social Media, like the real world is full of people in a bad mood or just coming off a big argument, they then see what you said, given their predisposition, they see what they want, and that is mostly colored red! Here is where your communication and presence of mind are put to test. Try and explain what was your intent and demonstrate clearly how it was worded and why it is not what they think it is. This is easier said than done, but has to be done. If after the entire conversation, the other party is not convinced, there is nothing more you can do. If they resort to public bashing even after that, issue a public clarification without directly addressing them and move on to other work. If they persist, unfriend/unsubscribe/block them. You will come off as a genuine person/brand who explained things. Result = Sentiment = Positive

The second scenario needs a little more care while handling, here the source of the tussle is an apparent communication error from our side. Start with an apology, no need to hesitate here. It helps if the apology and correction are public in this case, that way, the next person who gets offended knows that it’s an honest mistake. Also remember that a good social media expert needs a bit of a thick skin too. After the apology, if the argument continues, just do what I suggested at end of the previous paragraph. Again Result = Sentiment = Positive

The third and the fourth cases are variations of the same issue, where the other party is trying to sledge you whether you say something or not. Here, it is clearly not your fault, but social media is a funny beast, sometimes they remember what was said about you more than what you said. Tread carefully, collect screenshots/transcripts/references of abusive behavior. Report to the platform owners. Now save the evidence artifacts, they maybe required as proof to submit to the platform. Subsequently, publicly make a crisp and decent statement that abusive behavior will not be tolerated. Say this assertively, but not overtly aggressively. Drive out the bad ones, not everyone! Now you are perceived as a strong player who does not take nonsense lying down! Result = Sentiment = Positive

Is there any scenario/response that I have missed? Let me know! I would love to hear what you think about this topic!

(Image Credit: Morguefile)

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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