What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is a popular phrase adapted from Las Vegas’ tourism slogan meant to mean that no matter what you said or did in Las Vegas, your unbridled freedom of expression wouldn’t come back to haunt you.
Ah, if only that were true on the internet, in social networks, online communities and public forums. One would think examples of epic lapses in judgment made by individuals – think Roseanne Barr, or companies – SnapChat’s completely inappropriate “would you rather” ad about Rihanna – would serve as strong reminders that what you say online can burn your reputation so fast you might not know what hit you.
Sometimes it is better to back away from the keyboard.
I’ve seen nasty, snarky comments and arguments taking place on LinkedIn, which for the unenlightened is supposed to be a business network of professionals who are there for the purpose of doing business. I can’t figure out if the people who do this sort of thing are simply ignorant to the perception this creates about their character or if they’ve deluded themselves thinking that any publicity is good publicity.
Actions have consequences.
When we feel under attack or judged unfairly it can be easy to react without thinking through the consequences of what we are doing. That monkey mind reaction may intensify if someone has bashed you or your company online. The justification to defend becomes strong. This is exactly when you should take a breath and back away from the keyboard. A mindless response to justify your position or to prove you are right can easily backfire on a much larger scale when it is done online.
Before the rise of the internet, if you found out that misinformation about you or your company was making the rounds in business circles, you’d go to the source to work it out. Advice worth considering as your first option today.
If you choose to get in a pissing contest with someone online, you’d do well to consider the risks, especially if you are in a sales role.
- If you think how you conduct yourself in online conversations won’t factor into a decision to buy your product or not, think again. What you share, say and do matters. Buyers do check us out.
- Don’t assume that because an online community is small that your behavior won’t be noticed. People are watching.
- Even if you are in the right, going overboard to prove your point makes you look like a jerk who can’t keep their ego in check.
I saw a public example of how these 3 points played out between two rival software companies earlier this year.
It started with a sales manager at one company sharing a meme they’d created to poke “fun” at their competitor. It did not go well for good reason. Reps following in the footsteps of their leader started sharing the offending post with their social connections and followers. As tends to happen in social networks, a smack down began with people showing up to chastise the company and the sales reps for what they were doing. The sales leader apologized.
That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t.
It didn’t take long for the situation to escalate when an offended manager at the rival company decided to air his grievance about the competitor’s joke. Aside from the fact that the better decision was to say nothing at all, the sales reps who work for this same company were guilty of talking smack about the very competitor being complained about. People didn’t hesitate to call out their hypocrisy publicly.
Think first. Your brand will thank you!
Whether it is bashing a competitor or feeling justified in defending yourself when you feel wronged, everything you say and do remains attached to your digital footprint. Deleted tweets and social posts almost never disappear. You’d do well to remember that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, EXCEPT when it is on the internet.