Editor’s note: I am often approached by guest bloggers but Emma-Julie Fox gets an A+ for her perseverance! I find her guest blog piece as a fit for this space because I often write about the power of personal brands and the need to protect them. She provides some tips here that are good for both individuals and businesses who face the inevitable online naysayers.
Social networking sites have become so popular that they’re almost an integral part of every person’s waking hours. They have even become one of the most important tools being used by any effective SEO company.
In fact, Internet marketers have recently coined the term, “social media marketing” as an indication that social media has indeed become essential to an effective marketing campaign. Among the reasons why people are so fond of using social networking sites are the freedom and anonymity that they offer. You can say practically anything you want on these sites.
Social media platforms, however, can be a double-edged sword. The freedom to express opinions on social networking sites has given rise to what is known as cyberbullying, both on the personal and business front.
Cyberbullying is often a lot worse than bullying in the real world because the bullies can easily hide behind the anonymity offered by the Internet. Here are a few tips on how to manage cyberbullying so as to prevent it from causing irreparable damage to your reputation or that of your business:
1. Channel Your Sense of Humor
If, after you’ve sent a private message and politely reacted in the comments section, someone still keeps on attacking you, give him a dose of the world’s best medicine—laughter! Channel your creativity and find an inventive way of laughing at your attacker or his comments about you.
For example, you could create a meme reflecting what the attacker has said about you or your business. Just be careful not to make your jokes too sarcastic, as that might reflect badly on you. Light humor should do the trick.
2. Monitor Your Brand
There are instances where a competitor keeps leaving negative comments about your business or hires people to do so on his behalf. There are plenty of social media marketing tools you can take advantage of and you shouldn’t hesitate to do so.
Monitor your brand mentions and regularly check what people have to say about you and your business. This allows you to handle negative feedback properly before it escalates into something you can no longer control.
If you are sure that the negative comments are meant only to cause damage to your business and aren’t really from legitimate customers, but from competitors, contact site administrators so they can remove or mark the false feedback.
Respond to all legit comments (negative or positive) with grace and humility. For instance, if someone writes a snarky review about your blog post on a Linkedin group, you could respond to the comment saying something like, “ I understand you didn’t like the post and I respect your opinion. Thank you for taking the time to read though.”
3. Reach Out to Customers
If there’s no way for you to prove that negative comments are the workings of a competitor, then you need to show your other customers that you care about their experience with your business. Respond politely to the person making the negative comments and directly address the issue he presents.
Start by apologizing for whatever it is he is complaining about. If the unfortunate incident really is your fault, then you should also offer to make amends. This shows customers that you’re willing to take responsibility whenever necessary. If the negative comments are just part of trolling by your competitors, delete them and then block the offending users.
The best strategy of course would be to steer the conversation offline. You could share your email id, request the person to share their contact details, and assure them that you would be happy to call at their conveniece to resolve the issue.
Cyberbullying can indeed ruin your reputation and cause some irreparable damage to your business, especially when it isn’t handled properly. At this time when the economy is slow, you certainly need to do everything you can to build a good reputation for your business and keep it that way.
This makes it even more important for you to learn how to manage social media bullying properly. Don’t let it control the fate of your business or worse, your life. Think carefully before you react to a negative comment about you or your business on social networking sites.
Always remember that when customers read your comments, they will view it as a reflection on you, not on the person who originally made the negative comment.
A positive reputation and credibility takes a lot of time and effort to build for your business. Don’t waste all of those efforts by thoughtlessly reacting to online bullies. You are no longer a child. You are an adult with a business to protect and you should act accordingly, both in person and online.
Try to avoid difficult situations as much as you can so you can keep your business’ reputation positive. In some instances, when you feel offended to such an extent that you know you can no longer respond positively to a particular attacker, take a break. Log off from social media and spend some time relaxing with friends. You should be better equipped to handle the situation when you get back online.
Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com
Follow me on twitter @MarketingMel.