There Will Be Blood

Want a social media presence?

Dumb question, right? Every business does.

Just be a little careful about what you ask for. As ever in the social media space, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Fast. And what used to be a nice, comfortable Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter presence in, say, 2015, has become an utter minefield over the past 18 or 24 months.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that public discourse of all kinds has coarsened — and no more so than in the digital realm. Courteous conversation? Rational exchange of views? The valor of discretion? Out, out and out. They’ve ben replaced by firestorms of outrage and indignation at the pull of a “trigger” issue or word.

As base tribalism has taken hold in America, and people with different values have become hated enemies, there’s a whole lot more vocal intolerance of opposing positions. And social media has given the intolerant not only a free soapbox to vent, but also a free cudgel to beat down any viewpoint they disagree with. Tweets are getting pummeled in the most vile terms. Facebook and LinkedIn comments sections are bloodbaths.

So where does that leave a brand thinking about establishing, widening or repurposing its social media presence? Here’s where: Look both ways. You’ve got to be a whole lot more judicious about what you post now.

Even the most wholesome brands, making the most seemingly benign statements online, are getting destroyed. And not only by trolls. The thousands of folks who would otherwise just mutter displeasure under their breath — “Breast cancer walk? Hmph. Nothing for mesothelioma?” — now tap out bile in an instant. And since social media is so democratic, that bile is not only vicious, but often ill-informed and even unapologetically bigoted. The very worst aspects of human nature writ very large and very ugly. And your brand is always thisclose to being on the receiving end of it.

Avoiding all this — or at least most of this — requires a well-thought-out social media content strategy and a dedicated team. Brand social feeds can no longer be the domain of an intern or a middle manager with a few minutes to spare.

In short, you need to be very careful about the content of your social feed. Or there will be blood.


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