Navigating Social Media Backlash

Occasionally when I tell someone that I work in social media, I get an eye roll and a snide comment that typically includes some version of the phrase “get a real job.” Fortunately, I was a Women’s Studies major in college and I am therefore adept at deftly navigating this sort of derision and disdain. Recently, however, I’ve been noticing a lot of hateration directed toward the general concept of social media. These first tremors of backlash can be anxiety inducing if you or your client are feeling unsure about the value of “this whole social media thing.” The last thing companies want is to be embarrassed by jumping all gung-ho dollar signs onto some faddy bandwagon (hello Coke in SecondLife). And like every other shiny new movement, there’s bound to be an eventual moment where it finds itself being parodied on Saturday Night Live or poked at by Conan O’Brian.

The rising level of vitriol where social media is concerned is troubling for a lot of reasons, mainly because, as our resident SEO guy/zen master Brian Chappell put it, social media is what you make it. Annoyed that people on Twitter are boring/self-obsessed/petty? Well, guess what? People are like that in real-time, too.

So when things are starting to get a little backlashy on you, it’s time to soothe jangled nerves by taking it back to basics.

Tools Are Versatile

People control social media tools, not vice-versa. If you don’t like how you’re coming across or your social strategy isn’t going the way you’d like, reinvent. Social media tools are designed to accommodate many purposes and are dynamic enough to accompany you through your evolution. That’s why a network like Twitter can host celebrities, companies, and individuals alike.

Connectivity is Paramount

Social media is a revolution in connecting people. Suddenly people from all walks of life on different parts of the globe can engage in meaningful and profound conversation. Marginalized or isolated communities can find one another through free tools they can access as long as they have an Internet connection. That goes for anyone from guilty mothers suffering from postpartum depression to gay teens trapped in homophobic hometowns. Social media is the conduit for information, resources, and support all through that most basic of human interaction: conversation. Now, yank that one out of your arsenal next time someone pulls that line about not caring what you ate for breakfast.

Fun is Necessary

Social media is a group of people somewhat spontaneously coming together to have a good time. If you aren’t having fun playing with it, then ur doin’ it wrong.  There are just too many good writers and LOLCats out there for that to be the case.

I’m not the Web 2.0 Pollyanna or anything. I think there are some valid issues and concerns about problems that are particular to social media, and I agree that those deserve investigation. I just can’t get behind the empty adolescent sneering that seems to be making the rounds. Because social media may not be all things to all people, but it is something to some people.


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