Don't Use Your Blog as a Weapon - dummies

Don’t Use Your Blog as a Weapon

By Wendy Piersall, Heather B. Armstrong

There’s a fine line between voicing valid complaints or criticisms and using your blog as a weapon. Extorting or blackmailing anyone — or even the threat of it — is absolutely wrong and has no place in the world of professional blogging.

It is inappropriate to use your blog as a tool for revenge. Just because a big appliance brand delivered the wrong refrigerator to you doesn’t mean you should write vicious blog posts about the company in hopes that your readers will stop buying that brand. Every company makes simple mistakes and doesn’t deserve a dose of horrible PR and an angry mob without being given the chance to make it right.

This is where the gray area appears — what if the company had the chance to make things right, and yet it continued to blow it? What if its customer service continually overpromised and underdelivered? What if you’ve found evidence that this isn’t an isolated episode, but a systemic problem within a company that’s truly affecting its customers in a negative way?

Some people have voiced these kinds of complaints on their blogs or on social networks. Others have threatened to voice their complaints in the hopes that the company does the right thing rather than deal with the bad PR. When is it acceptable to call a brand or a person out for negative behavior? That’s a hard one.

Because this is a very personal decision, here are some questions to seriously consider before taking such drastic action:

  • How will this affect your personal brand? Consider whether writing a critical post is congruent with your personal brand. You have to decide whether you want to be known for calling people out on their incongruent behavior. Also consider that if your brand usually focuses on the positive side of things, your readers might view you differently if you write this kind of negative blog post.

  • Is the company/person active online and in social media? If not, you need to decide whether it’s fair to voice your complaints in a medium where you clearly have the upper hand.

  • Will your blog post really help protect other consumers? If your intentions are to honestly warn your readers, consider whether there are other ways you can achieve this goal without writing negative things.

  • Are you willing to have this blog post published forever? After you publish your post, there’s no turning back. Even if you delete the post, it will live on in Internet archives permanently.

  • Are you sure there will be no legal consequences to your actions? Big companies have big legal departments. If any part of what you write isn’t strictly the truth, you could be sued for libel.

  • Could this complaint backfire on you? There are hundreds of ways this kind of situation could backfire on you. You could experience backlash from other bloggers, reduce the level of trust people have in you, or become the target of attacks yourself.

    This is especially true when your problem is with another person instead of with a company — when there’s inevitably another side to the story that may ultimately get more attention than yours.