Haters come in all shapes and sizes. Negative engagement is a staple of the digital space – trolling blogs, expressing themselves on social media sites, and popping up virtually anywhere that engagement is encouraged. Thanks to both the web and mobile, syndicating content is cheaper and easier than ever before. This allows us to take more risk with our approach. Have a crazy idea? Want to try something new? As long as you’re keeping brand integrity and audience in mind, you’ll cut through more clutter and see better results if you jump in and go for it. Some of my biggest successes have been the result of creating content or trying a distribution method that wasn’t ‘business as usual’.
But what happens when
taking a risk backfires?
Or, for that matter, what do you do when a project or campaign isn’t as well received as you’d like? Whenever you open up and encourage engagement, you’re bound to have some people that use this as a chance to express their displeasure with you. Even your most popular projects will probably attract their fair share of ‘haters’. On one of the weekly web shows I produce, we have a viewer who relentlessly leaves negative comments through YouTube. Yet this same person watches every single week and comments multiple times per episode. It seems this ‘fan’ loves tearing into the show… but enjoys the show enough to be such a dedicated viewer… often one of the first to watch it.
There are many schools of thought on how to handle negative engagement. Some say it’s best to ignore the comments. Some say to respond with a positive but neutral response. Very few recommend blocking, reporting, removing, and/or blacklisting the viewer as it appears fabricated (think if Yelp only showed the best reviews). My advice is to tailor your response based on the specific comment. If it’s a question or misconception about your business, product, or service – reply with a professional and relevant company response. Remember that many people enjoy reading other’s comments, so your response will almost certainly have an audience. This turns the original ‘negative’ comment into a helpful FAQ that leaves viewers more informed about your business, product, or service.
In some instances, on the other hand, I suggest doing nothing but observing.
Wait to see how others respond to the comment. If multiple people like or agree with the feedback, then you should use this to grow and improve your service. Think of this as free customer research. The best-case scenario is when people don’t agree with the ‘hater’ and come to your brand’s rescue. We’ve had many occasions where a nasty comment will be made, and multiple viewers will contest it via their replies. These unpaid, unaffiliated, and unprovoked brand advocates are your true fans. The negative comment is the bait that drew them out of hiding. Now that you know who these super fans are, see if you can connect with them to engage in other ways.
Always look for ways to turn negatives into positives. In the case of ‘haters’ leaving feedback, it truly is a case of ‘no press is bad press’ as its easy to extract opportunity from the situation. The most important thing is that you’re listening and active. Nothing good will come from a situation where you post content and then ignore it. Check in early and often. Take action when opportunity presents itself.