Social Media: Sometimes, Silence is Best

I read an article titled “Stop Saying What You’re Not Going To Do” a while back and it really struck a chord with me. While the article was getting at our propensity to state an intention to take actions that we will, in fact, never undertake, it sparked an idea for a post of my own. It took a while for it to take shape in my mind. It was when I was reminded of the oft-repeated phrase, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”, that it all fell into place, with a little spin, of course.

social media silence
photo credit: Daniela Vladimirova via photopin cc
My premise is that if you don’t have anything valuable to say, if you don’t have anything pertinent and on target to add to the conversation – via a social media post, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Maybe it’s part of many a social media manager’s resolutions for 2013, resolutions to connect more and take part in more conversations, but I’ve seen a rise in what I call the “comment for comment’s sake”.

In my opinion, and I’m sure there will be some dissenting opinion, these kinds of comments are self-indulgent at best, edging toward self-involved. In fact, when these kinds of posts, from these kinds of commenters continue to pile up, I equate it with a benign sort of spam.

We aren’t experts on everything. Even within the social business sphere we each have specialties, niche concentrations and platform-specific knowledge. We can’t keep up with every change that is reported in social business news. Sometimes this causes some social solutions providers to take on the persona of Jack of all trades, master of none. Giving us the idea that we should act or comment at will. This is something we should fight against.

When we come across an article that we find useful, we have several choices to make. We can choose to like it, to comment upon it or to to share it. Too often we fail to choose the first.

Liking, giving it a +1 or marking it as a favorite shows you appreciate the post, link or article, though you have nothing else to add to the discussion. Doing so helps to spread the reach of the article, post or link with the purest of intentions. No self-serving stigma whatsoever. When I read an article that resonates on a topic in which I am interested, but do not have the expertise to add to the value of the discussion, I can choose to like it, letting the author know of my appreciation for the hard work.

Too often I see the comment for comment’s sake. These either detract from the value of the original message or, in the worst cases, hijack the conversation for personal gain and “glory”. Sadly, I see a lot of the following:

  • a comment preceded by, “I don’t know much about this, but…” or “I’ve never done that, but…”
  • a comment complete with a link to an irrelevant article or blog post by the commenter
  • the “yeah”, “yay me”. “WOOT” reply *

Maybe these comments are made in a misguided attempt to help friends and colleagues. We’ve all liked a page created by our brother or one created for our office mate’s side business. It’s the right thing to do. But this can be taken one step too far. We all know what it looks like when family members comment to often on our own pages. The “Mom” comments can especially be distracting.

While that aside might have been funny, and even poignant, it adds to my point. Too many “comments for comment’s sake” detract from the professionalism of an idea, article or brand. Worse, they detract from the identity and professionalism of the person who regularly makes such comments.

In a nutshell, what I’m saying is that sometimes it’s better not to say anything at all, and show our appreciation without words.

* I’m not saying that occasional cheering comment isn’t acceptable. I’ve been known to share a WOOT, a “go girl” or “go guy” and even the occasional “couldn’t have said it better myself”. The key being, occasional, not making up the bulk of my comments. *

Mallie Hart
After a long career as a graphic artist, web designer and ghost writer, Mallie found her true calling when personal social media embarked on the path leading to social business. While she still gets busy with graphics, most of her creative energy is now directed to unique social media content creation, curation and cultivation. Her dual love of graphic design and social media requires her to research, write about and promote a wide variety of topics while staying true to brand integrity. A research junkie - she majored in medieval history, Mallie enjoys the opportunity to find an interesting angle on just about any type of business or industry niche. When she’s not busy with The Media Barista, Mallie has been known to devour books (several per week), careen over rocks and roots on her bicycle and seek out the newest, edgiest music; all while drinking a lot of coffee.
Mallie Hart

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