Let's face it: us social media marketers have a pretty cool job that allows us the flexibility to set our own schedule while we work from anywhere. That doesn't mean it's easy. It's expected that we're always on, always connected with 24/7 coverage for rapid response time. We are the public face of many organizations and brands – often some that we don't even work for.
And to top it all off, while social media is an awesome way for us to connect with each other in a globalized world, often a mirror of that world, it is increasingly negative too. That negativity weighs on us, as we don't often get the luxury to disconnect and turn off that chatter.
Today we offer tips to overcome that negativity and to use it to your advantage – without risking your authenticity. And then we'll end with a challenge to you to experiment with social media positivity for one week straight!
Social Media Positivity Tip #1: Accentuate the positive. But don't ever ignore the negative.
We just love what Texas Children's Hospital's social media manager does, since, being a kids' hospital, she has to maintain that awkward balance of professionalism and adorableness. Cara Lovan has content ranging from #ShareYourMoment selfies of new moms and just-borns to drawing a lot of comments and a touch of controversy over the topic of vaccines.
In this case, she can give a neutral stance that may or may not draw negativity, but certainly an important discussion. And it's not just about what you do online. When you run a service-oriented brick-and-mortar like a hospital, you can continue to follow Texas Children's suit by responding to complaints publicly and as quickly as possible, but, if the complaint is valid, invite them to come in to talk to someone on your team face to face.
Social Media Positivity Tip #2: Starve the trolls, feed the rest.
“Don’t feed the trolls,” Collaboration Superpowers founder Lisette Sutherland told Social Media Today. “Focus on messages that add value and bring people closer together.”
Respond to the negative when appropriate, always thanking them for their feedback. (Thus ending on a positive note!) Just don't try to respond to them first in direct message, make sure your response is as public as their accusation, then move it to a more appropriately private setting.
Then spend the rest of your time creating content that builds a community. To quote the First Lady of the United States, always remember: "When they go low, we go high." Go high above that negativity trap.
Social Media Positivity Tip #3: But don’t back down either.
But as prominent voices on Twitter and beyond, it’s important to make sure you don’t let our office space go low either.
I find the internet trolls the most depressing aspect of social media. Let’s all make a conscious effort to call out these people, stand up to them, and ask them if they would say that to someone’s face.
The Social Butterfly community manager and virtual assistant Diana Berryman warns us that there’s a time to back down and there’s a time to stand up for what we believe in.
“Don’t let trolls get away with it anymore. Top tip for marketers: don’t run away from the critics, stand up to them and give a reasoned and intelligent reply. Don’t engage in the negativity, rise about it and a keep a smile on your keyboard at all times.”
Social Media Positivity Tip #4: Have a social media 'bounce time.’
Like the 24-second shot clock, you don't want to get stuck in the heat for too long. You're going to see negative posts and you can't ignore them, but you can't dwell on them either. Social media manager and executive coach Sam Mednick says you have to have your "Go-to positive, feel-good sites" that you can quickly switch to. "Because people end up lurking on the negative sites and reading and re-reading. If you don’t want to get sucked into the negative then have a fast ‘bounce time’." (I can always find a giggle on Cute Overload or a sardonic chuckle on The Oatmeal.)
Social Media Positivity Tip #5: Keep pulse on sentiment.
Those bad moments can also be really good learning experiences. Some would even call the myriad of emotions on social media a particular challenge to management teams. Use a social media listening tool like Mention to measure sentiment surrounding your brand. If things are heading downward, then it's a good moment to review your social media marketing strategy and to have a talk with the heads about just what's happening within your organization to breed unhappy opinions. A few negative posts on social media can open up to a really important conversation on company culture.
Social Media Positivity Tip #6: Relish in the creativity.
A lot of the time, we are just spewing out the same old, same old. When things get tricky on social media, that’s when things get interesting. Yes, those trolls and Negative Nancies are exhausting but they are also what makes our work a fulfilling challenge. Believe in your clever ability to take that high road in an authentic way.
Need inspiration? Check out how this social media customer service rep responded to what could have been some really disgusting press for Tesco’s grocery stores.
Social Media Positivity Tip #7: Experiment in only positivity.
We dare you! In a sort of social experiment, we are seeing what happens when you go an entire week without "going low" on social media. We invite you to sign our pledge to #gopositive on #socialmedia. This means, for one week, anywhere you post – and no matter who on behalf of – you pledge to find a way to be positive. You don't use negative emojis. You don't like, retweet or otherwise endorse someone else's negativity. If you have a negative customer, try to spin it politely positive.
We don't think you have to #gopositive forever – that would be disingenuous to yourself and to the transparent brands you're trying to market. We just wonder if as many people as possible abstained from going negativity on social media for one week, could it have an effect on the world? Or could it just change how we as individuals look at things?