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7 Little Etiquette Rules for Complaining on Social Media

Read this before you unleash your discontent. Here’s when to complain, react, or just unfollow.

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Reach out to companies directly if you have a problem

If you have a complaint about a company’s product or services, reaching out to them via social media is your best bet for getting a response. But click around to see where the company appears to be most active. “For example, some companies are very good about responding to customer complaints on Twitter. Other companies are more responsive on Facebook,” Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. “Either way, airing your grievances all over social media just won’t get your results.”

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Know when leaving a bad review is better

If you have a complaint about clothing—say, the new yoga pants you bought online are oddly see-through—it’s best to leave a negative review on the company’s website instead of on social media. According to Women’s Health, 88 percent of consumers rely on online product reviews before making a purchase, so companies may be quicker to respond there.

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iStock/Johnny Greig

Never, ever complain about work-related issues

It’s. So. Not. Worth. It. This is especially important to remember if you’re friends with co-workers on social media: Saying the wrong thing could cause awkward workplace dynamics—or even your job itself. “There have been many cases of people getting fired for posting about their companies on Facebook. It’s just not proper social media etiquette,” says Whitmore. Next, steer clear of ways in which social media can affect your job opportunities and sabotage your career.

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iStock/Emir Memedovski

Don’t complain about family or friends

Even if you’re not naming names, posting statuses or tweets that allude to certain family or friends can burn bridges and damage relationships. (And no one likes a vague-booker!) “I would approach that person first rather than air out my dirty laundry,” Whitmore advises. “Complaining about family and friends on social media is just not good manners at all. Realize that once you send it out, it can come back and haunt you.”

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Never post on social media when you’re angry

Public social media posts should be thoughtful, not in the heat of the moment. “When I teach technology etiquette, I always say don’t tweet in heat, meaning don’t post on social media when you’re angry or upset. Remember that what seems like a big deal today may not be a big deal tomorrow,” says Whitmore. Use these simple etiquette tricks to maneauver your way out of the 11 most awkward social media moments.

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Make all public comments respectful

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy debate—whether about presidential candidates or plumbers—so long as everyone is respectful of one another’s POV. “Remember that if you’re commenting on someone’s status they have the power to delete your comment. If you disagree with someone’s social media post, I recommend you either approach them in private or respond in a diplomatic way,” says Whitmore.

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iStock/Martin Dimitrov

Don’t be afraid to unfollow or unfriend

If there are people on your social media feeds who seem to complain non-stop—and their comments bug you—Whitmore suggests blocking or unfriending them altogether. “Social media is for social connections, sharing ideas, and networking,” she says. “It’s not a place to air your grievances or read what irritates somebody. My suggestion is that every six months you unfollow or unfriend anyone that doesn’t have healthy, positive, or entertaining things to contribute.” And remember–whether you’re online or off–you’ll always want to follow these 50 little etiquette rules.