Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

When is it okay to block somebody on social media?


January 12, 2017

Social media

I love how social media lets us connect with people around the world. But sometimes we also connect with people who are:

  • Rude
  • Annoying
  • Obnoxious
  • Offensive
  • Etc.

For the most part, I do think these are also qualifiers to consider blocking somebody. Ultimately, blocking is a personal (or brand) decision.

Blocking on social media means that we are now disconnected and they can’t see your  updates.

On many networks, once you block somebody you can’t see their posts any longer as well. So, that’s something to consider.

I do enjoy the discussion and even debate on social media. I don’t mind when people disagree with me. But I do mind when people are rude or try to have the same argument with me over and over.

Didn’t we already talk about this? How many times do we have to do this?  We STILL have different opinions.

Also, I get that people judge each other and their opinions, but when that judgment becomes an attack, that’s not cool, and I likely will block those attackers, too.

Blocking isn’t usually my first step to not have to listen to somebody’s rudeness. Twitter, for example, let’s me mute people. Unfollowing is another step. Finally blocking basically disconnects us on that network.

Yes, we want engagement and learn from each other on social media, but negativity can drain the energy out of us and also our communities.

One way to preserve the energy of a shared story (even when we disagree) is to eject members who are causing an unproductive disruption.

Some people will argue with that, of course, because they claim it undermines the purity of community. “All opinions and behaviors should be accepted.” But that’s not how any community works offline either.

Not everything is accepted by any community. Communities have rules. Somebody enforces them. People choose to follow them or violate them.

The only difference on social media is that there are many little communities now that are often very visible.

So the rules for my community – the one I choose to be part of – include:

  • It’s okay to debate
  • But it’s not okay to keep rehashing the same thing over and over
  • Don’t be rude
  • Don’t belittle other opinions
  • Don’t be  obnoxious
  • Don’t attack

There are likely others but these are my overarching points that if they happen will get me to block somebody.

Brands – especially brands of more than one person – might be wise to write down their own rules of engagement. Once you block somebody, you may have to publicly explain why. Maybe just publish your rules of engagement out of the gate.

We will block you if you are a jerk. For example.

Blocking is an acceptable technique at times. And what’s great about social media is that you can define your own rules.

Ultimately, you can’t block too often because you need people to be connected to make social media work, but block when it’s the right thing to do – for you and your community.

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Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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