For the last several years, social media and other online outlets have provided us all with a voice. Some may argue that it’s perhaps evened out the playing field, allowing voices to be heard that never before would have that opportunity. This is a positive in many ways. Ideas are shared, movements are started, and a wealth of information can lie at anyone’s fingertips. Yet with this ability comes a big responsibility.

My question today is what are you using that voice for? Are you using it for good, to be helpful to others, to be inspiring? When it comes to the good, one of the most powerful things you can do is to show gratitude and appreciation for others.

The Power of Appreciation

Think of a time when someone expressed appreciation to you. Perhaps you thought it was something small, or an everyday act that you never thought twice about. Maybe you brushed it off as “just doing your job.” But think about how it made you feel. You paused in your day to realize that someone took notice and share that you made his or her life a little better in that moment. It probably made you want to do more of whatever that thing was, either consciously or unconsciously. It was inspiring and encouraged you to continue living your purpose.

Now turn the tables. You’ve screwed up, made someone feel bad or caused an inconvenience. But instead of sharing it with you, they’ve told the world on social media and in an online review. What if they didn’t even come to you first with their frustration, offering an opportunity for you to make it right? The world is now throwing stones at you without knowing the whole story, making judgements based on a one-sided account of events. You feel powerless and lose focus on the good.

Which scenario is more helpful, and serves a greater good? It’s the appreciation, of course.

Businesses Need Love Too

Just as gratitude and appreciation encourage you to focus on the good and be of greater service to others, the same holds true when it comes to business. Yet it seems that people are much more likely to go online to air their grievances against a business than they are to tell the world when that business has done something great.

Granted, I’m not talking about businesses doing harm or operating in an unethical manner. When there is public harm or dishonesty at stake, people need to know. What I’m talking about are the numerous complaints I see each day about things like “my sandwich was cold,” “I had to wait on hold for too long,” or “my hotel towel wasn’t fluffy enough.”

Those types of reviews are abundant on social media and various review sites. In many cases, there are fans and brand ambassadors who do support and speak out on behalf of the business. Yet I’ve seen some businesses get seemingly hijacked by a band of complainers. Those businesses struggle to gain control of their online reputation because of these bad apples. They’re the only voices seen, and oftentimes, give the wrong impression about who a business really is. Fact is, there are people who are raving fans, they’re just not publically talking about it.

Let’s pause for some reflection time here.

  • How many times have you had a wonderful experience with a business, but said nothing?
  • What has kept you from showing that business a little love?
  • How can you be as passionate about expressing appreciation as you may be about sharing a complaint?

While there are many campaigns and efforts that businesses can put into place to manage their online reputation, that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to talk about you, the human behind the computer screen that wields a lot of power.

You have the power to help support a business or brand you love. You have the credibility with your friends when sharing your story. You can make a difference in how that business focuses on the good. Especially in the case of small, local businesses, you can impact a person’s day. That’s right folks, there are human beings on the other side of the screen who have put their passion (and probably their life savings) into what they’re doing. How do you want to show up, and what impact do you want to make on those humans?

Article written by

partner/marketing visionary/Don Henley worshipper