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How to Handle Online Negativity

How to handle online negativity

Using social media marketing to enhance a brand, image or cause easily opens the door to those who will criticize no matter how well positive strategies are executed. “Haters will hate!” is a comment seen regularly on posts of those with some kind of public celebrity.

The internet gives people anonymity and typing insults behind the veil of a computer screen never seems as harmful as doing it in real life.   How online negativity is handled is crucial and not to be dismissed lightly.

Only so many will “get it”

According to Tim Ferriss: “It’s critical in social media, as in life, to have a clear objective and not to lose sight of that.”  He argues that if your objective is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people or to change the world in some small way (be it through a product or service), you only need to pick your first 1,000 fans — and carefully.

“As long as you’re accomplishing your objectives, that 1,000 will lead to a cascading effect,” Ferriss explains. “The 10 million that don’t get it don’t matter.”

Everyone can’t be pleased, so its wise to surround oneself with only those who contribute value to a specific marketing campaign.  Focus on that core group of active followers who will be dedicated to sharing the message and will have the most incentive to follow through.

Cultivate relationships with those who have shown to be interested and active in engaging in a positive, productive manner. They are the best allies and should receive the most attention.  Welcome new followers into a friendly atmosphere.

Use time wisely and productively

When dealing with negative responses, time is being taken away from the importance of the campaign, which is to build a solid foundation in the area of expertise being promoted.  Some criticism will warrant a private reply, but most will be time wasters, only fueling the fire of factors that don’t warrant a response.

Keep credibility in tact by not reacting to each response, but by keeping the focus on driving positive aspects the venture. Never answer negative responses publicly, take it to a private message or email.

Some negativity should be expected and outlined in a social media marketing strategy session. No one can be in the public spotlight without a certain amount of scrutiny, but being continually in a reactive mode isn’t productive. Responses to attacks should be prepared ahead of time.  If time is spent constantly responding or apologizing, that core group of valuable players mentioned above is being ignored and not being recognized for the good work they are doing.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Grow a thicker skin. If social media is being utilized correctly, the issue, the organization, the person who is making the most impact will draw the most haters.

Scott Boras says, “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.”  

Perhaps negativity should be seen as a mark of success!

Marketing strategy planning brings positive results, but expect some resistance and plan for it.  Don’t take every negative response as a personal attack, pick battles wisely, and keep anger out of the equation, it brings the undertaking down to a lower level and shoots credibility in the foot.  Let the haters have their day, keep focused and ignoring them will be the sweeter revenge, because their approval isn’t needed.

Idle threats will go nowhere

Using threats of lawsuits or other retaliatory action will only serve to feed the negative action.  Yes, there are laws that will protect to a certain extent, but is it worth it in the long run?  Usually it will cost much more, both financially, and in time spent away from the core group of followers.  As a matter of fact, they will probably fall away. Those people who are invested in the outcome of the objectives are not likely to feel comfortable watching threats being tossed back and forth like a badminton birdie and will possibly find another person or organization to support within the same arena.

Maybe the haters have a good point!  Before any response to criticism is made, be positive that there isn’t a level of truth.  Take a close look at what’s being accused, and be sure there isn’t an appearance of wrongdoing or facts that can be misconstrued.  If that’s the case, be the bigger person, admit the wrong and correct it.  Followers will gain added respect and the all important credibility will be left in tact.

Live well and prosper

Taking the higher ground is always recommended. Most negative campaigns are short-lived, especially if they aren’t fueled by more negative responses. Just like a storm, it’s vicious, but when it’s over the air is clean and the view is brighter.  By utilizing the tips above it will be over as quickly as it started.

The internet is fast paced and opinions change daily.  By giving the perception that all is well, it usually will be over within a short time.  If those that are in constant attack mode see that their actions are not gaining ground, they will subside.  Counter attack by showing that negativity has no impact, and that the positive aspects of engagement are more important than those who wish to live with resentment and anger.

If assistance is needed with your social media marketing campaign, it’s right here!   For a FREE personal consultation and assessment, contact us for an appointment.  Phone:  843.808.0859   or   Email:

1 Comment

  1. I get it…. I really do. Luckily I have very competent people to help me navigate the aspects of social media I don’t always understand, don’t want to participate in or don’t have time for… What little negativity I have experienced, I always try to turn it around, “take the high road and not “sink to their level.”. I also try to see some redeeming feature in what they’ve said. Life is far too short to make enemies…
    However, if you are cutting edge and a bit controversial – Cool! As for dirty laundry, I’ve cleaned mine long ago…
    Boring yes… But at least I’m not going to be arrested for my sins!

    Respectfully submitted,
    Donna “Ladyjustice”

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