Whatever your personal opinion of Rebecca Black, you can’t deny the American teenager’s stardom. Few people in the online world won’t have heard of Black – her surprise YouTube hit ‘Friday’ amassed tens of millions of views and reached #33 on the iTunes chart.
While online marketers salivate, the media and public alike remain slack-jawed at this extraordinary demonstration of viral success. Yet, there’s at least one obvious reason for Black’s success: haters. Whether through genuine aversion or mere disbelief, negative reactions made this $2000 clip into a global phenomenon in a matter of days.
So is this a tick in the box for the adage, all press is good press?
Social Media Hecklers
Also known as ‘h8ers’, hecklers are those individuals making negative comments about brands/celebrities/groups/individuals on social media. Anyone who has been around the Twitter traps will notice people dedicate a lot of chatter to hating on others.
(But it’s not all bad. One of the great things about Twitter is that it enables us to vent our frustrations and then get on with our day. Moreover, we know that the majority of Tweets are seen by few people, responded to by fewer and remembered by even less, if any.)
As brand keepers, we must be able to distinguish between criticism for a genuine and specific reason (i.e. expressing offence to something your company has done, said or sold) and heckling (i.e. unnecessary negativity lacking a constructive aim).
Just like celebrities and people in the public eye, big brands will always have critics. Much of it is benign, perhaps borne from a single off-putting event, ignorance or even denial. However, we can’t simply write off heckling with the old ‘sticks and stones…’ rhyme. Hecklers can lose you subscriber numbers, which means the number of people receiving your direct communications/ promotions is reduced, potentially impacting sales.
On the other hand, the attention could bring extra people to your social media pages or see fans come to your defence, strengthening those relationships and brand loyalty.
And we’re back to thinking about Black and the all press/good press question!
How to Deal with Hecklers
Don’t make the mistake of assuming a poorly expressed question or challenge (or even compliment) is an attack. Seek to clarify the intent behind a comment and you may just find areas of agreement with the commenter.
2) Stay Professional and Seek a Resolution
Always maintain a professional tone and attitude when dealing with hecklers. It’s often best to publicly respond to the complainer and treat them as a valued customer. Give them something to do, such as directing them to your contact page. Certain hecklers won’t bother to take the next step because they are only temporarily displeased or blowing off steam. Stay calm, polite and true to your brand’s personality. Don’t give anyone a reason to continue fighting. This will hopefully neutralise the adversarial nature of the exchange. If all else fails, you may have to employ mum’s counsel and simply walk away.
3) Listen and Learn
A-ha! Bet you thought we were finished with the advice. Not so. We must keep in mind that hating on haters is not a constructive use of anyone’s time. Instead, ask yourself if a heckler’s comments have merit. Do they highlight something on which you could improve? Not to get too schoolyard here, but it’s usually our friends who are least likely to openly criticise us, even when we deserve it. Furthermore, the need to prove our adversaries wrong has always been a strong motivator.
Let’s not let those h8ers win!