The power of (y)our words

Afternoon Tea

As bloggers, sometimes we don’t realise the power of our words in influencing others’ opinions and habits. Particularly when we write ‘reviews’. Often however, our words are more easily spurred in negativity than in praise. We will take to the internet immediately if we are frustrated and angry but good service is almost taken as a given and not many take the chance to go and leave a good comment.

I’m guilty as well as I’m sure many others are, at least in the not leaving a positive review area, but I like to think that this then means that any reviews that I do write are given more gravy, I mean gravity — it must have had an immense impact on me in order for me to be spurred to write something. An off-hand comment on social media is fairly easy and painless, and likely to be quickly buried by other posts, but a blog post is more lasting and perhaps found by a larger audience.

Still, social media has its impacts though, and sometimes it’s a matter both of ethics and legality when brands delete complaints and negative comments left on their pages. Sometimes this can even lead to less than recommended forms of action taken by owners of establishments. There is apparently “growing frustration and powerlessness”, and rightfully so when the public now has much more freedom of expression than ever before.

"Everyone gets their chance to have their say," [Sarah Doyle from Porteno in Sydney] said. "Unfortunately (for us) the motivation to get angry is far stronger than the motivation to be complimentary [and] when people are pissed off, they want justice."

Coming with that is a form of anonymity of course, which means that fake online reviews are much easier to create, as well as businesses convincing bloggers to undertake reviews with a little “encouragement” and “guidance”. This makes it that much more confusing for all of us. With a new set of social media guidelines for businesses though, perhaps if I want to remain in the jobs that I’m currently in it would pay to be aware of what it encompasses.

While quite beyond me to write fake reviews, I’ve always been an ambassador of ‘nothing should be hidden/deleted, it should be addressed’ when approaching my marketing work and I have been somewhat disturbed when I discovered negative comments ‘hidden’ away, even if we could do nothing about it. Although this has sometimes resulted in some clashes which were eventually taken to private messaging to properly resolve, these were in the end resolved without too much drama.

Marketing is sometimes a fine dance between honesty/truth and falsehood, embellishing the truth to make it just that much more tantalising but without actually telling a lie. It’s the truth within boundaries.

Angry anime character

However this is not a set of rules against the reviewers themselves, they are rules for businesses in the event they receive negative reviews. Nothing still restricts reviewers in what they want to say. Is it their human right to say whatever they want? Maybe so, but I believe we should still exercise caution in how we say it. If something is written in the throes of anger, it should not be posted because no good ever comes from that.

As they say though, all negative reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. The bigger picture is often that there will always be a subset of people that are not satisfied and they will be the loudest in voicing this opinion. Which is fine really, because you can’t please everyone. As much as that hurts, it is the ongoing enjoyment of true appreciators that comes foremost. Though similarly, it’s important to let people know they are being heard.

Regardless, as both a marketer and a blogger, I shall be giving both areas of my work extra consideration now as to what and how I post things. It’s such a fine, fine line to please people, whoever they may be.