I found an interesting article recently published on Social Media Today about “Social Media Savagery.” That’s the fancy term for what I like to call, brands fighting back. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people seem to have a great deal of time for posting mean remarks to celebrities and businesses on social media. In fact, the term “internet troll” was coined to describe these people who have nothing better to do but harass others online. As your social media reach grows, there is no doubt that your company will encounter inflammatory posts. The question is: What is the “right” way to respond? What reaction will further your business goals?

Most brands seem to opt for taking the proverbial high-road by either (1) ignoring or (2) showing empathy for the remark, assuring the poster that they will work to make whatever is wrong right. I must confess, I personally prefer the tried and true “be nice to everyone even when they are a jerk” tactic. But I know that we’ve all seen instances where those that have been attacked online have fought back.

Does fighting back demean the brand or public person?
In most instances, yes.

Does mixing it up with trolls online get
attention for the brand?

Is this the sort of attention that someone should want?
It depends.

The article is really interesting giving insights into this potentially “new way” of marketing a business by calling attention to the brand by fighting (hopefully in a funny way) with detractors online.

But do you want your company to be known for hurling insults back and forth online? Is this what the world has come to? Does your social media staff really have time to engage with every online troll for the sake of attention? Plus, realize, if a line is crossed, you can really never take it back. What is posted online can be screen-shot in a millisecond and will, therefore, never go away.

In 99.99% of cases, this so called social media savagery cheapens the company and most companies wouldn’t even know how to engage correctly. There is only one man, one brand, if you will, in the whole world that uses online detractors to his advantage. He regularly exposes his trolls in the most elegant, funny and thoughtful way. In fact, his brand and efforts are actually furthered with his quick and sharp wit and smart alec remarks. If you want to try your hand at fighting back on social media to further your business the right way, I suggest you follow Mike Rowe on Facebook immediately. Mike is at once snarky while being self-deprecating. I’ve never seen anything like it.  You won’t have to read very far to realize that for every post he makes there is at least one “negative nellie” that he annihilates with his humor.  But every now and again, he actually purposely reposts a particularly insulting jab with a brilliant, funny and entertaining retort.

My recommendation on this whole thing is as follows: If (and only if) you can slay the trolls with the grace and elegance of Mike Rowe, do it.

Here is my very favorite of Mike’s “comeback”  posts:

Lourdes Welhaven is the owner of Welhaven and Associates, a full service marketing firm. When she’s not laughing hysterically at Mike Rowe’s posts on Facebook, she is helping clients with their marketing, including but not limited to, their social media. If you’d like someone as clever (and humble) on your team as Lourdes, just contact her.