Social media is a wonderful way to build relationships for your business, to raise brand awareness and even get sales directly! Did you know that 87 % of Twitter users said they would buy from a small business they had engaged with on Twitter?

But there is a dark side to Twitter and other social media platforms which gets a lot of publicity but yet doesn’t give us a solution. People often tell me that they are afraid to go on social media after hearing tales of negativity and of being attacked. Well I have my own ways that I deal with that. Here are my top ways to deal with negativity on Social media.

1. Don’t avoid social media if this fear is the only thing holding you back

2. The first thing to do is ensure you have a plan in place to deal with situations that arise. A good social media policy that all employees are aware of is essential.

3. Establish first is the person complaining a genuine customer or a troll

4. Respond or acknowledge – always do this anyway. Some customers just want to know that they have been seen and that they are being paid attention to.

5. Don’t say ‘sorry’ straight away. Say ‘sorry you feel that way’ – Acknowledge their anger or hurt without admitting you have done something wrong – get the exact details first.

6. Take the conversation offline to Direct message or email. Implement the plan swiftly.

7. Follow up – ensure that the complaint is dealt with by the correct person.

8. Encourage the customer to tweet about the result when they get a satisfactory response as other followers will want to know that you deal with complaints in an efficient and positive manner.

9. Remember customer feedback is an opportunity to gain valuable insight into how your customers feel and view you as a brand. Take this feedback as an opportunity to improve things for your customers.

10. Take yourself away from the emotion and don’t take the complaints personally.

Remember happy customers will be your biggest marketeers so always nurture those relationships and keep engaging and interacting with them moving forward. There is always a way to turn negative experiences into a positive experience.

Ok so what about Trolls? I get Trolled a lot. At first I was upset but now I know exactly what to do with them. What is a troll? According to Wikipedia, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion,[3] often for their own amusement. In other words they are just idiots who either like to cause controversy and get attention or who want to hurt others just for fun.

I asked some top social media influencers what they thought.

Bryan Kramer says “While people love to give their opinion, intention and context is challenging to discover socially but can become clear with more engaged intention. Trolls come in all shapes and sizes. I always give people the benefit of the doubt once with a response, twice with a polite thank you but no thank you, and third with a block. Life is too short for trolls.”

Ted Rubin talks about this often in his talks and blog posts. ‘Embrace Critics, most often they have very valuable feedback about things on the minds of many others. Basically ignore Haters… if the comment is inappropriate feel free to delete, but otherwise simply thank them for their input, and move on. Most haters are desperate for the fight, engagement, and platform. Take it away and most often they seek and and find another target. #JustBeNice… #NoLetUp!’

Joel Comm told me that it’s important to discern which type of troll you are dealing with first: ‘There are trolls with legitimate questions and concerns, and there are trolls who exist just to harass others. If it is the latter, I recommend deleting comments and banning the user.’

This was said about me on Facebook by someone who I will not name (Don’t want her to get attention)

I have just seen a link to pricing that one of those godawful social media guru’s put up.I am actually dumbstruck by the pricing. In fact I’d say you’d need a neck like Lester Piggotts proverbials. If I was paid that for the volume of tweets I make, I’d float myself on the FTSE. Don’t be scammed folks.

Also this was said about #irishbizparty hashtag one night by a person who works in social media yet puts down people a lot (a big no no in social media land)

just use that #IrishJizzParty hashtag to your tweets, instant brothel

‘Twitter is ten today, ironic that there’s a conference in Dublin today with that wan who made a name for herself by buying fake followers.’

A “twitter expert” explains twitter ads: “Well, basically they are ads that advertisers pay for.” Christ almighty.

An Irish one? DM me her (!) name please. I think it’s same one we’re talking about! #SK #TG

Same people clapping themselves on the back – day and night – Show me the money stream. #lost. Making money via twitter use #?

So yes I do have experience in this! And you know what….I have blocked them ALL!

I don’t care what they think. I block them and move on. I know who the good people are and I just hang out with them!

Twitter and social media has opened up a whole new world for me, built amazing global relationships and also friendships! So if you get trolled, just simply ignore and block. You will usually know if they are just having a bad day or something by looking through their other tweets. If it’s all negative and giving out ….do you really want this person in your network at all?

Go follow people who are like minded, get what you do, and do good stuff themselves. Enjoy social media and ignore the begrudgers and trolls. Build strong relationships and assist others along the way and you really can’t go wrong. And engage engage engage! Enjoy the journey!