Tony is a strategy-driven, brand-focused 19 year veteran of the advertising industry. Prior to founding The BLÜ Group in 2004 he served as a senior account executive for a variety of large, national brands including Hickory Farms, NEBS, and Betty Crocker. Since BLÜ’s inception, Tony has dedicated his time to helping small-mid size businesses and organizations build strong brands while volunteering for a variety of civic and professional organizations, including serving on multiple boards and chairing a variety of committees.

How NOT to Use Social Media – When Competitors Go From Friendly(ish) to Flagrantly Foul

We all have them and we all are them – competitors. But just because someone is a competitor of yours does not mean you should cross the line in regards to professionalism and respect…especially when the encounter occurs online.

The other day a local competitor of ours decided to engage us in a debate on facebook regarding the use of online press releases and their role in helping drive traffic to websites (they work really well by the way – press releases have been around since the dawn of press – this is just a new way to use them). His first couple of posts bordered on confrontational so we acknowledged his comment and recommended that he take it offline and offered to field a phone call from him to discuss it further.

His next posts were friendlier and would even lead one to believe that we could agree to disagree. Possibly even share a cocktail the next time we were out. We were slightly mistaken and a little too optimistic!

After one final post by us to end the conversation on a light note, this individual proceeded to post a comment that was disrespectful at best. He obviously had a personal axe to grind, but this was not the forum to showcase his incompetence and lack of professionalism. So what next?

  1. We deleted the stream. This is only done on the rare occasion when someone crosses the line. Never allow someone to harm your brand. Protect it all costs.
  2. We banned the individual and blocked him from our facebook page. He is now banned from posting on our wall and/or seeing any of our posts using his current user name.
  3. We located him on our other social networks (surprised to find out he recently joined us on Twitter and Google+ and banned him from there as well. Your company should prevent individuals that exhibit this type of behavior from being exposed to your company.
  4. We sent him a short, professional e-mail informing him that he had been banned and why. Interested in knowing how he responded? Let’s just say it seemed like he could have used a hug.

The increased use of social media to promote a company’s offerings and insights opens the door for engaging conversations and healthy friction. This should be embraced and leveraged as much as possible. On the rare occasion someone with an inferiority complex decides to challenge you online, don’t fall for it. Follow the steps above and let us know how it all turned out.