Keyboard warriors, cyber bullies, trolls no matter what you call them, they are all the same, haters whose life mission is to spread misery wherever they go.
I was reminded again recently, with the ongoing events going on in the world both off and online how destructive dealing with ‘trolls’ can be both mentally and in some cases financially to a small business owner.
With the advent of the internet and the anonymity it brings, faceless figures behind their computer screens have taken it upon themselves to voice their level of online justice onto the cyber-world; “Justice” being hatred.
Now I am going to approach this topic two fold – both from a personal and a professional perspective.
To begin, I am human just like the next guy or gal. When I see the hate that some of these individuals spread both on their own and on other people’s social media pages, chat rooms, message boards etc. – All in the effort to gaslight reactions, I too get my back up and want to confront them just like the next person. BUT, after working in the online, digital world for some time, I have been able to come to the conclusion on a couple of things.
First, YOU WILL NEVER WIN AN ONLINE ARGUMENT WITH A CYBER BULLY!
Let me explain, cyber bullies have a predetermined agenda and no matter what you say or what you do, they will NEVER listen or change their position on any and all conversations they participate in! Let me repeat, YOU WILL NEVER change their point of view EVER!
As most of us do, when we participate in a debate whether it be online or in person, we use knowledge, opinion, information, perspective and logic to support and demonstrate what position we are presenting. However, when you are dealing with a cyber bully, all of these elements will have no effect, as they operate from an irrational position where logic has no place. They don’t care what you say, they will ALWAYS disagree and in turn attack you as a person, gender, race, age and or any other social signifiers to break you down and discredit you.
So basically its a losing battle.
Second, the best approach I have found to deal with them is simply resist the urge to enter into an online war with them in the first place. Simply choose to ignore, delete their comments and block them. If nobody participates in the hate, they will have no one to play with and nobody to help them perpetuate their negativity.
At the end of the day, participating in these online wars just fuels these warriors to dig in deeper and continue perpetuating their negativity because they got what they wanted; you to react. The anxiety and stress it brings is just not worth it in my opinion. If you must say something to prove your point by all means do, but then walk away and leave it at that. Always remember YOU are your business online. Would you like your business associated with a negative online confrontation such as this? Odds are probably not.
Now from a professional level, I wanted to broach this topic from what a small business owner should do when they encounter negative criticism online.
What I have encountered are two types of negative criticisms when it comes to online platforms for small business owners:
Genuine negative customer feedback
Online cyber bullying
Genuine customer feedback is something that happens much more frequently when it comes to small business owners. Social media has become the direct line of communication between business and customer. Customers generally will jump on Twitter or Facebook to lodge a complaint about a business rather than pick up the phone and call. This is why it is so imperative that someone is actively monitoring what is being said about you and your business online. The best way to deal with negative criticisms is to take this negative as an opportunity to shine.
What I mean by this is, when a customer posts on your Facebook page for example, that they waited forever to get the product they ordered from you and when it came it was broken, you can either chose to ignore it, delete it or become defensive in how you respond. Or, you can take this as an opportunity to show not only the customer but every follower you have your outstanding customer service and transparency.
In my opinion, the best way a small business should react to a negative comment is:
Apologize for their bad experience
Validate what they are feeling
Rectify and offer a solution to their experience
Apologize again and reiterate that you will take the necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again
Following these steps, will allow you to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive solution for this customer and everyone who will view the interaction. As a result, they may become one of your biggest cheerleaders because of how you handled the situation.
Second, cyber bullies and small business owners are not as frequent, but they do happen. It can be a little trickier to deal with because as a business you want to remain transparent.
My suggestion is to take the steps I have outlined above, if they continue to attack you, give them a warning that if they continue to be belligerent, profane or vulgar, you will take action to block them for the protection of all of your followers. If they do not heed your warning and continue, by all means block them, after all it is your page and you are in control of what is said on it.
At the end of the day, both personally and professionally how you use social media is up to you and how you allow others to influence your experience online is also up to you.
My perspective, make it a positive experience and let the haters know they have no place in your cyberspace!
Dina Arsenault Digital Media Strategist and the undisputed reigning Madame of creativity, community and connection for the Ontario Chapter of http://acueconsulting.com/.
A celebrated and sought after speaker and writer, Dina is a caffeine fueled and food delighted ( locally sourced of course) Community Builder, Relationship Nurturer and all around Small Business Supporter. Dina’s online expertise is driven by her desire to promote your business online while connecting and elevating others in the process to foster community and the all around ‘good feels’. If you want to be visible, connected and engaged with your community (and exposed to great food and fun) Dina is your gal!