Like it or not, the Internet is not always a realm filled with rainbow and unicorns. There is a particular brand of Internet creep that simply gets off on making your day a bit less sunny. And it’s not just the Internet, jackasses seem to be everywhere, but unfortunately, the Internet provides them with a much larger megaphone and staying power. In person, you have the opportunity to simply ignore and move on, a right-click-close, if you will. However, on the Internet, and more specifically in social media, these jackasses feel protected by the geographic barrier between you, them, and the issue at heart.
Now that’s not to say that there’s a one-size fits all creep out there gunning to muck up your brand’s social media stream. Sadly, there are a wide variety of these types, but let’s have a look at four common perpetrators and how best to deal with them.
Spam Me Not
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
First up, our good old friend the spammer, or “link bomber”, as I like to refer to them. Sometimes these are truly good people who are either under intense pressure from the boss, or simply whore themselves out for the money. Sad to say, but it happens every day.
Needless to say, your brand’s social media stream is no place for affiliate links, redirects, and the like. Yours, mine, and others’ kneejerk reaction is to clickity-click that delete button and move on. However, no matter how many times you explain it to them, or what their self-justified reasons are, some link bombers will get quite vocal about having their comment removed, either in your current stream, across other social media channels, or any one of the umpteen million forums out there.
If you’re dealing with an affiliate, the best practice here is to get in contact with them directly, explain why and how your social media channels are not the right place to be drumming up business, that their link will be deleted, and that any orders received via the affiliate link during the time period for which their post was active will not count towards their revenues generated.
If you decide to go the delete route, just to CYA, try adding a clause in your “About” section that clearly spells out that rude, affiliate, link building, etc. is strictly prohibited in your stream, and comments of this nature can and may be removed at the discretion of a page administrator. No, it won’t stop the ranting and raving, but at least you’ve made it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
Haters gonna hate
Oh the hater. No matter what you do, how many services you provide, etc., there will always be those out there that were born with a bug up their ass, and assume that social media is the perfect outlet to express their dissatisfaction.
You’ve likely been in this scenario: You’ve just posted a new product offering, news about your company, etc., and there’s bound to be more than a few haters who have absolutely nothing good to say about your post. The first question I often ask myself is, “If all you’re doing is hating, why are you liking my brand?” Obviously, there’s no actionable item in this thought, but it’s a pleasant reminder of the idiocy of their actions. Please note, “actions” and not statements. Consumers certainly have the right to their opinions and their freedom to express them: that’s what customer support channels are for.
So what to do with the hater? Nothing. I realize this might sound a bit brash, but remember those other 18,346 fans you have? Sit back, and watch the most loyal come to your rescue/defense. Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. Your fans already do a lot of talking about your brand. If they’re a true lover, they’ll step up to the plate and you won’t have to say a thing.
If all else fails, it might be time to break out the big guns, and ban the user from your page. I’ll leave this controversial move up to you, but for what it’s worth, here are detailed instructions on how to do this.
Oh, and dear haters, please remember what your mama taught you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
The random comment coming out of left field is one of my favorites. Sometimes, I’m even amused by them, but in general, they’re bad for your social media flow, and run the risk of threadjacking if not properly dealt with.
What do I mean by Captain Random? That person that dives into your social media stream with a completely irrelevant comment in relation to the item/topic posted. 9 times out of 10 these tend to be customer service related comments, and while you’d love them to go through the established channels, they simply just don’t. So what to do with Captain Random?
Address his comment/concern with a polite message and follow-up link. I generally follow up with something along the lines of, “Hi Jack, and thanks for getting in touch. Would you mind reporting this issue to our customer support team, as they’re much better equipped to help you (URL Here). Thanks!” I also like to provide Captain Random with a bit.ly or other traceable link, as you can then also use this as a metric. Meaning, if there was only one click on the link, it was most probably Jack. However, if you’ve got multiple clicks on that link, it might be time to check in with customer support and see what’s what and what needs to be addressed.
Who doesn’t need love and attention? We all need love, but some have decided that social media outlets are the perfect location to gain the love and support of fans of your brand. Don’t ask me how they come to this conclusion, but you’ve seen it a hundred times already, that one fan who makes it their mission to either comment on every single item in your stream, or better (worse) yet, start posting their novels to your wall.
Poor Cathy. Obviously this is a rather delicate situation to be presented with, because at the end of the day, you’ve got to feel a bit sorry for someone like this. The first thing to do in this situation is to give Cathy some attention, as she’s clearly crying out for it. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks for sharing your story with us Cathy!” will suffice, and Cathy will somehow pull herself together and move on.
What if Cathy doesn’t move on? It’s time to elevate Cathy to stage “flattery”. It’s perfectly fine to send Cathy a message and tell her that you’re overjoyed that she’s a fan of your brand, and that you’d like to invite her to further expand upon her story in your forums. If you don’t have a forum, perhaps Cathy would be interested in contributing a guest blog, or be featured as a use case. I’ve implemented this tactic a number times, and each and every time, Cathy has either backed down, chickened out, or simply disappeared. There’s no need to be mean, and sometimes calling a bluff is all you need.
Just like the hater, if Cathy starts ranting and writing, chances are your loyal and devote fans will come to your rescue, pointing here towards other outlets (forums) or proper channels (hello, customer support!).
In general, it’s best to keep the big picture in mind: We love the interactivity and direction action that social media channels can bring us and our brand. Trolls will always be trolls, but you can minimize the damage by simply keeping your head, responding appropriately, and letting those die-hard fans of yours do the policing for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got another Captain Random to redirect to customer support….
Lead image via Shawn Allen