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The Wednesday Social: 5 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation on Social Media

Well hello, Wednesday!

Every week wediscuss a trending topic, something we’ve noticed, or something you’ve asked us to discuss. This week we’re going to discuss ways you can damage your social media reputation and ways to prevent self-sabotage.

1. Personal rants


What else is Facebook there for, you might think. It’s a sounding board, where only the friends/trolls who are stalking you will chime in and argue or support. We beg to differ on the belief that your personal and professional Facebook or social media platforms are entirely separate.

If you are an entrepreneur:

Your life is blended. You are your business and your business is you. There is no separation. SO, when you rant about people consistently asking you for free work, or you complain about clients, or you rant with a close-minded (or really, any) perspective: WE ALL SEE IT. And though you might feel that you are fighting the crusade for other entrepreneurs, you are really just making yourself look bad, dramatic and an undesirable candidate with whom no one wants to engage on a professional level.

If you are part of a corporation:

You are a representative of your company, a paid brand ambassador. You make yourself look bad, you are making the company you work for look bad. The likelihood of them “catching” your bad behavior is possible, and even more so for someone who might be out to hire you in the future.

So, what should you do instead of ranting on social media?

  • Realize that owning a business is a roller coaster and it’s not for everyone
  • Understand that part of being a successful business owner means professionally handling conflict
  • Start an entrepreneur/other industry-related support group
  • Find positivity within the situation
  • Learn something about how to operate your business
  • Have empathy
  • Move on

Other don’ts:

  • Screenshot and shame competitors (or anyone, for that matter)
  • Air out dirty laundry from personal/professional relationships gone bad
  • Post negative content from the business account (or any account, really)


2. Lack of sensitivity


We’ll be the first to tell you that you should be scheduling on social media. We will also encourage you to be strategic, and over-monitor what you’ve scheduled and how it gets rolled out into real life. Why? Because poor timing can really hurt. Consider something you schedule and how it could be taken the completely wrong way when negative current events take place and what you’ve posted is now entirely insensitive. We found this example on Hire Rabbit

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 6.50.42 PM

In addition to the timeliness of your posts, we find it worth mentioning that you should not engage in jokes that are, well, not jokes at all. Sharing blatantly offensive material that YOU think is “funny” could cost you more than the 5 minutes it took you to craft the post. We all saw this post and how it went viral (and not in the good way)…of all the people in the entire world, a PR professional blew it with this one.


Where is Justine Sacco now? Obviously this is a radical example, but it could be you. If it crosses your mind that something you find humorous MIGHT insult someone, don’t even post it.

For the sake of using a local example… RIP Waking Life. Story here.

3. How you engage


Oh, so you liked all of Donald Trump tweets and you accidentally followed the leader of the KKK because he followed you and you always follow back. People look at who you follow and who you engage with, especially when you first cross their radar and they are trying to gauge your brand’s credibility. That’s not to say that you cannot have a personal opinion on social media, it means that you have to have self-awareness and understanding that you are exposed by engaging on social media at all.

Beware that negative comments can crush you. No matter how upset you are at a poor Yelp review or negative tweet a customer shared, you have to stay positive and professional. Just because someone makes you feel bad or had a bad experience does not mean you should throw away the opportunity for them to give you a second chance. Moreover, that person’s word-of-mouth transfer to his/her friends upon you either fixing the issue and handling it in a professional way OR your bad attitude and mistreatment of his/her feedback can either uplift or ruin you. No one is perfect and as a person or brand on social media, we have to realize that it is a two-way street and negative and/or passive aggression will get you nowhere.

4. Avoid controversy


Stay away. We know how intriguing it is to jump in on a hot and trending political or religious issue. BUT we ask you to think twice and consider this: was ever a global/world issue solved through a Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn post? Exactly. So, really, why bother? No matter what side you pick, you will polarize and turn someone off. Now, we realize you can’t work for everyone and you don’t want to… but if you can avoid controversy, social media will be a much more pleasant place, for you and your brand.

We’re not saying to be insensitive to what’s happening in the world, but revert back to the ways around ranting on #1 and move along. Also, there are plenty of ways to engage current events in a positive way. Here’s a Hubspot template that can help you design your SM Crisis Plan.

5. Not understanding the weight of social media for your brand


If you don’t understand how crucial social media is to your brand, and you pass it off to the intern because you don’t really care… or if you post silly/poorly crafted posts because you don’t see value in having a strategy, this one’s for you.

Social media is the most economical and “free” marketing tool. Why not pay attention to it? It’s the best way to give living, breathing characteristics to your brand and people LOVE when they can connect with brands on social media. So, why not pay attention and invest?

Even if the budget is small, there are plenty of ways to organically engage on social media and all that would cost is time. Once you get your bearings and start to see a return, invest a little more into ads and clicks. Then you’ll realize you’re growing your community and making money in a paid but still “human” way.

We recommend you put some stock in social media and don’t ignore it. Instead, make it work for you (and your brand).

Overall Do’s


  • Keep it positive, always
  • Take the conversation offline
  • Stay professional
  • And always, take the high road


DISCUSS: How have you seen people/brands damage their reputations? What advice or resources do you live by when it comes to keeping your online reputation afloat?


We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment here or find us on the interwebs: @bwsocialco. See ya next week for another installment of The Wednesday Social and if you have any specific requests on what we should talk about, email us!