Jerks are going to be jerks: Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with jerks online

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter

Sometimes in life you encounter people who are jerks.

Via Mike Licht

Via Mike Licht

As children, we were often told to ignore the jerks. As adults we find ways to cope with the jerks we encounter throughout our days.

It’s a little more difficult for companies to deal with the jerks on social media. Unfortunately social media also provides jerks with a megaphone for their poor attitudes.

You can’t make everyone like you on social media, but you can take the high road when it comes to the social jerks who you encounter.

Don’t fire back at them.

If someone tweets nasty things at your company, don’t tweet nasty things back at them. It makes you look petty and like a jerk yourself.

Do fix legitimate problems.

People often use social media for customer service problems. If someone is having a problem that has them upset, they might come off as a jerk on social media. Publically respond that you would like to do what you can to fix their problem and ask for contact. For example, “We’re sorry to hear you’re having a delivery problem, please direct message us your email or phone number so we can find out more about your problem.” Or “We have been experiencing some issues with x, please call customer service at 800-xxx-xxx for an update.”

Don’t let jerks scare you away from using social media.

Often when we consult with a company who either refuses to join social media or has their channels locked down, it’s because they’re concerned about negativity on their social media channels. People will say what they want, if you let them say it on your channel you can be aware of it, try to fix it, or let your community come to your defense.

Do let the rest of your community support you.

Social media jerks (they are usually called “detractors”) tend to show themselves for who they are. Social community members are great at identifying the jerks out there and will sometimes shut them down for you by responding with their own positive tales. Definitely foster a positive social media community, it can work for your organization.

Don’t be a jerk yourself.

Whether this is on your personal or your company’s social media, do what you can to not be a jerk. If you have a problem with a product or service and choose to try to solve it on social media, do so in a human and respectful manner. It sets a great example for all around you.

Do report abusive users.

It is absolutely okay to report a social media account that is spamming or harassing your company. On a promoted tweet program for a client, one user took their hate for promoted tweets so far as to abuse our client’s account and claimed to report us for spam. (All social media ad programs that we run are in compliance with the platform’s policies and are in no way spam.) So we reported the user back for harassment. Make sure you read the terms before reporting a user so that you aren’t being a jerk. (By the way, if you don’t want to see a promoted tweet or post, click the dismiss button and Twitter won’t show it to you again.)

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