Do you know that awkward moment when you’re in a bar and shout out ‘Lets all go skinny dipping’ and everybody is silent, except the person you’ve been trying to avoid all evening, who goes “Yeah! Lets do it!!!”?

Sometimes social media can have the same effect; you post a funny photo or smart tweet and hope that all the smart kids react. Of course, they don’t. It is that one geek you tried ignoring when he emailed you, and your sister-in-law, and that awkward neighbor you don’t even want to meet AFK or that one customer that keeps coming back to complain about everything.

There are several ways of dealing with this.

1: ignore
No answer is also an answer. If someone replies to your request for comments on Twitter it doesn’t mean you have to reply back. You can always act like you suddenly went offline. Everybody knows that inboxes are overflowing and you can’t read everything and always reply. As soon as you realize you don’t have to reply to everything you will feel a lot better.

2: react
Okay, so the people who reacted weren’t your first choices. But hey, at least you got a reaction! Engage in a conversation and those annoying people you ignored at first might turn out to be kind, inspiring and interesting. Give serendipity a chance! Sometimes your worst clients can turn into your most passionate advocates. Try channeling their energy into something good.

3: attack
The hardest option is to be honest and tell them you are not interested. You block people, mark them as spam or just say ‘Sorry, but I’m not interested in your opinion’. Although some people leave you no choice always try the other options first. You might think that honesty is noble but it isn’t to the person on the receiving end of your ‘honesty’.

4: repressive tolerance
Some people just want to be acknowledged. The more you ignore them the more they will make themselves heard. Sometimes all it takes is an ‘You are right’ and they will shut up forever. This one is useful for all those people from kindergarten who found you though facebook and want to get ‘back in touch’ on facebook and LinkedIn. You can ignore them but they will just find you on Twitter then. When they email you with their life story just give them a one sentence reply “I’m fine. Glad to hear you are too” and leave it at that.

Conclusion
Social media makes it easier to strike up a conversation. Unfortunately you don’t always get to pick who the conversation is going to be with. As long as you realize this in advance you will be able to get the most out of it. How do you deal with the trolls, long forgotten acquaintances and the ‘mr know-it-all’s’ on Twitter?

Now I wonder who still dares to reply…