What Constitutes Negative Publicity?

We see no evil, hear no evil, and say no evil.

We see no evil, hear no evil, and say no evil.

Lately, I’ve been reading posts from folks who complain about “negativity” on Facebook and Twitter. That surprised me because I haven’t seen anything that reeks of flaming, my idea of negativity, so I began speculating as to what constitutes bad publicity. My balloons and I had a long discussion about this, and basically, their philosophy is, “See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil.”

They had a point.

For starters, I listened to Jonathan Maberry, Don Lafferty, and other greats discuss the technique for posting and branding, and their message was clear: avoid negativity in your posts at all costs. I thought about the time I posted when Mike or I was in the hospital or having surgery, wondering if sickness counted as an offensive post. Don assured me not to worry, that people friendly with me would want to know that I’m okay. For that matter, friends would also sympathize with the death of someone close or the loss of a job. So…what constitutes a “bad boy” post?

Political discussions seemed to top the list. Many of our Congressmen create controversial images; people either love or hate them. My thoughts? I keep my opinions out of Facebook and other social media. It’s easy to stay out of discussions about politics on-line and in real life.

Persistent “buy my book, shoes, blah, blah, blah” posts turn people off. Not sure about Twitter, but Facebook polices this one pretty good. Of course, when your book is released, you want to tell people where it’s available. People who know and love your genre will want to buy or at least consider buying. But most of your posts should be about general topics. The experts recommended a ratio of general to “sell” posts of about six to one. This is meant as a guideline, not an exercise in math. The general posts should include topics that other people would find useful and/or interesting.

Bashing a book or company generates bad publicity for everyone involved, including the person who writes the post. My mom once said if you can’t find anything good to say about someone, don’t mention them at all. She had it right. If I read a book I dislike, I won’t review it. There are few stores I avoid, given the balloon factor, but if a place truly gives me the creeps, I just don’t go there. If I had true concerns about a book or store, I’d rather communicate my thoughts in a private email.

Most people don’t set out to hurt anyone. Their intentions may be good, but they might not realize the impact their words have on others. I learned about intent versus impact when I had diversity training at work.

So…what might people consider useful topics? Human interest stories, such as what you see on the news. Example: CVS started marketing Somnapure, an herbal sleep-aid (it works – I use it myself). Lots of folks would give their eye teeth for a decent night’s sleep, but dread the thought of addictive prescriptions, so they would appreciate hearing that they could buy a good sleep aid without any dangers of addiction at their local pharmacy. It never hurts to wish someone a happy birthday. Facebook makes this easy by listing people’s birthdays on your right column under “events” on a given day. Perhaps a good joke would bring a smile. My balloons gave me more good advice: consider how I’d want to treated when I post. Dang, I knew they were smart!

So…have you found a lot of negativity on social media? What kind of posts do you find unpleasant? What kind would you like to see? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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