The Danger With ‘Name & Shame’ on Social Media

“Well, that escalated quickly.”

It’s a phrase, made comically famous by Ron Burgundy in the film Anchorman, that crops up a lot across the social networks.

A comment, a blog post, or a tweet that brings a complaint or grievance into the public domain, rapidly ‘gaining traction’ and creating an avalanche of support and backlash. In an era where our news sources tend to derive from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, or any number of other social sources, the speed at which negative news can travel and be noticed in extraordinary numbers, is quite breathtaking.

It happens in our personal lives. Our own feeds routinely populated by someone taking aim at a person, organisation, or body against whom they’ve taken issue due to poor service, an offensive remark, or any other personal slight.

The ‘naming and shaming’ culture, calling people out on matters such as sexism, racism, homophobia, or a simple matter of unprofessionalism and incompetence.

Of course, there’s a place for this. Social media offers a platform for people and organisations to be held to account for things that may have been said or done (or not done) in the public domain.

But what about when companies, or individuals within companies, start firing the shots?

The broker who sounds off against a client with whom they’re in dispute, perhaps. Or maybe indulging in a bit of ‘name and shame’ against an insurer, in a claims pay out rejection.

You may well think you have a fair case to feel aggrieved. And you may well be at the end of you tether, unable to get anywhere or make any reasonable progress with the dispute in question.

But is calling them out on Social Media really the best option?

The thing to remember when you direct your ire, vent your spleen, and generally unload on your allotted target on social media is this:

You are doing so in a very public forum.

Which will, inevitably, have repercussions.

  1. You risk damaging your own image

It comes down to the age-old adage of airing your dirty laundry in public.

Ask yourself, is this really the best course of action to deal with a particular grievance in a corporate setting?

Once you open up the dispute to a public setting you are playing jeopardy with your own reputation. You run the risk of coming across as petty, resorting to name calling rather than seeking more professional, and discrete, channels of conflict resolution.

Again, ask yourself: how many disputes have found a satisfactory conclusion as the result of a public spat?

When you name and shame, the likelihood is that your ‘victim’ will bite back and counter – leading you very much into Ron Burgundy ‘escalation’ territory.

Brokers and insurers, for example, will always have the potential to disagree over issues. But surely, from a professional standpoint, you’d like to ensure that there remains scope for future dealings? Escalation of a conflict can lead to a souring of relations and a permanent (and possibly damaging) rift.


  1. It can threaten your relationships with other clients / partners / suppliers

If your public outcry has led to a somewhat volatile reputation, then are you not risking the relationships you have, or may aspire to have, with others?

Customers are not necessarily going to be impressed by a company who reacts to problems in such an inciteful fashion. Such reactionary outbursts does little to enhance your brand, displaying a certain lack of professionalism and corporate decorum which can undermine a customer’s trust that you are able to handle situations appropriately.

Whereas you also put your relationships with other suppliers or business partners, who could quite easily be put off by your rant – fearful that they may be next on the ‘hit list’ should you have a disagreement in the future.

  1. Nobody Cares

And finally, whenever you take to social media, have an idea about what you are trying to achieve when engaging.

Surely the point is to create a positive awareness of your brand, your expertise, and your trusted place in the industry. Distributing content and commentary that’s relevant, and if use and value to your audience. Enhancing your place as a thought leader in the sector.

When you use that space to declare war, or make public your aggrievances with another body, you are, at best, wasting your use of the platform. At worst, you are coming across as self-indulgent and irrelevant. Your followers and contacts simply don’t want to hear about your squabbles and troubles.

They don’t care about them and, if you shout them from the digital rooftops, there’s a real chance that they’ll stop listening to you entirely.

A name and shame rant that can be seen equally as unprofessional, ill-advised, disengaging, and nothing more than a whisper in the social media wind, from a voice that grows less relevant with every angry outcry.