McCann anniversary a reminder of social media’s woes

McCann anniversary a reminder of social media’s woes

Do you remember the days when getting your voice heard was so much more difficult?

If you had a strong opinion you felt you needed to say, the answer was often a letter to the editor of the local paper.

You composed the words carefully on your typewriter or Basildon Bond, put it in an envelope, addressed it, stuck a stamp on, and then made a trip to the post box. Even then it was not guaranteed it’d be published.

It was a process that allowed plenty of time to calm down, think about what you were saying, and wonder if it was worth saying at all. This old way of getting your message out was an effective filter mechanism.

However, that was before social media.

Now, virtually all of us can tap away, vent off about whatever we like and press send. It’s the engage keyboard before brain era, and it’s one of the downsides of the modern world.

The 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Maddie McCann is the epitome of this issue.

You can barely meet a member of the public without an opinion, and willing to give you their take on what happened. Despite the fact that highly trained police forces have devoted a decade to this case and still are none the wiser, Donna, a hairdresser from Billericay, can have thousands read her opinion based on reading the Daily Express.

Regardless, of your views, and honestly we don’t want to know them, it has shown how we can all engage on a debate about anything, but also how the consequences can be so damaging.

Be it the hundreds of Twitter or Facebook messages from online trolls the McCanns receive each week, or even a child receiving abuse from her classmates via Instagram, it’s the dark side of social media.

Handling many social media accounts for businesses, we talk about the pitfalls of the medium, because with every tweet, Facebook like etc. comes responsibility. You are displaying the character you are.

People buy from people and controversy is a way of alienating many. Be it a higher than mighty view on the EU debate, your take on the Maddie McCann situation, or a trillion other subjects, you have to tread carefully.

After all social media, blogs etc are very much part of the new PR age, and a prospect advancing down the sales funnel can be turned off by your views. Think as carefully as you did in the old days, have a second opinion and even a third.

Learning to engage intelligently on social media is a skill, which takes time, but worth perfecting. If more learnt it, the world would unquestionably seem a nicer place.