Social Media Engagement, Contradiction and Starting a Fight


Share on LinkedIn

I respectfully disagree. Three words you rarely see on social media. Disagreement is one of the most common sentiments on most social networks, but most dissenting voices are a little less polite. Those disagreeable corners of the web are the ones most marketers, particularly B2B marketers, prefer to avoid. We prefer to live in the land of mutual congratulation and mutually beneficial back-links. But there is a lot to be said for a bit of disagreement.

I wrote a post recently outlining a few suggestions for sharpening and shortening social posts. As I often do, I shared that post across a variety of social channels but I received a reaction that was totally unfamiliar. Someone outright disagreed with me.

You, Sir, Are A…. Polite Critic

Most of the time on LinkedIn or Twitter, B2B social media engagement is conducted in very friendly terms. Criticisms are hidden in easy to digest sandwiches and suggested edits are couched as suggested additions. Nobody wants to offend anybody.

But on this occasion, I received some outright, and forthright, disagreement and criticism. I reacted in a way I wouldn’t have expected; I thanked the critic for his honest opinion.

We’ve developed a strange culture on social media where all dissenting views are dumped into a big, angry box marked ‘troll.’ Years of incessant badgering by people with nothing better to do have created swathes of journalists, bloggers and other opinion-sharers so sensitive that the slightest dissent is viewed as outright hatred. I don’t blame people who react that way, it’s the real trolls’ fault. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have polite disagreements.

The Power of Contradiction

In this instance, my critic was very polite and detailed in outlining his point of view. I found his response interesting and as well as thank him for it, I offered further illumination of my point of view. It felt like a real discussion over my work, far more gratifying than gathering a few hundred ‘Likes’ that are offered without comment or second-look.

I surprised myself in my reaction because I felt compelled to respond. With some social media comments you can reply more out of a sense of duty than any real desire to engage in conversation. But this criticism dragged a response out of me. And because the criticism was reasoned and polite, I felt compelled to respond in kind. No sarcasm, no sniping, just reasoned debate.

Positives of Being Negative

Which got me thinking, how can I continue to have these conversations online? And how can I use that compulsion to help our clients with their social media engagement?

No business, especially B2Bs, wants to be seen as a ‘troll’ or constant critic, so routine criticism of other people’s work was out. But they’re not the only ways to critique, disagree or contradict.

Your own blog posts and other social media engagement provide plenty of scope for offering your opinion on a particular issue. If you read something you disagree with, you don’t need to start a fight in the comments. You can create your own post and link to it. You can offer that contradictory point of view without resorting to outright criticism or name-calling, simply present your opinion and see what comes back. As long as it’s honest and not criticism for criticisms sake it will likely resonate, maybe even with the original author.

This plays into so many of the goals businesses have for their blogs. If you want to be a thought leader, or present yourself as an authority you have to push the boundaries a little. It’s impossible to lead from the middle. By presenting a ‘devil’s advocate’ position, or offering a contradictory view you demonstrate your knowledge and your willingness to discuss industry topics. That’s a far more effective persona than being the company who only appears before the words “liked an article…”

Opinion Drives Conversation and Conversation Drives…

When you present a strong opinion, contradictory or otherwise, you encourage interaction and even compel those who disagree with you. Businesses are encouraged to get involved in social media engagement to build credibility and drive website traffic through their expertise. You can do that really effectively with simple disagreement. Or not….

Why not take advantage of SiliconCloud’s FREE Social Media Evaluation for your brand, company or products ?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eoin Keenan
Media and Content Manager at Silicon Cloud. We help businesses to drive leads and build customer relationships through online marketing and social media. I blog mainly about social media & marketing, with some tech thrown in for good measure. All thoughts come filtered through other lives in finance, ecommerce, customer service and journalism.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here