Written by Jason Miller.

Social media is the Wild West of differing opinions. In a split second you can find yourself receiving a virtual hi-five and then immediately involved in a shootout at the OK corral. This is both the beauty and the beast of social media. It can be a marketer’s best friend or your worst enemy depending on your ability to keep your cool.

Welcome to the Jungle.

As a social media marketer you will absolutely be tested. Frustrated customers, envious and jealous competitors, everyday Woody Woodpecker-like troublemakers, and more are running amok. Social marketing allows people to publicly vent their frustrations — and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, the problem, and opportunity in many cases, is all about how you respond.

You will be called out, you will be challenged, you will be hurt, offended, and quite frankly pissed off, but many times you will also be rewarded based on how you choose to handle these situations. Remember, there will always be people trying to poke holes in your opinions or strategies. You can’t please everyone all the time, and you shouldn’t be trying to in the first place.

You will be called out, you will be challenged, you will be hurt, offended, and quite frankly pissed off.

The important thing to remember is to keep your cool. As much as you would like to roar back with your own righteous opinion this is not  the answer. If it’s an angry customer the best thing you can do is to do your best to understand their issue and offer help. This tactic can often turn a hater or critic into an advocate if it’s done properly. If it’s a competitor taking jabs or calling you out, no matter how nasty it seems to be, take a deep breath, step back and respond when necessary but take the high road when you can.

If you are consistently taking jabs and potshots from your competitors, then you must be doing something right. In this day and age it’s vital to pay attention to what your competitors are up to, but watching them like a vulture circling a corpse waiting to pick them apart is another thing altogether.

A competitor who constantly takes shots at you in the world of social is digging their own grave. Most of the folks who see these jabs have more than likely already chosen a side, but those who haven’t are the ones with the power. The competitors who are talking more about your product or service instead of paying attention to their own simply reek of desperation. In some cases it can make the entire industry look bad.

Rage Against the Social Marketing Machine.

If you are a marketer running ads in and around social media platforms you are most likely going to see the classic message “Dear so and so, get out of my newsfeed.” I am a huge advocate of social advertising and I get that there are folks out there who are annoyed by seeing ads in their different streams, but let’s remember that these are free services. Facebook and Twitter need to make money in order to improve the user experience and this is how they do so.

Similar to what I mentioned above, this is the time be a smart marketer. Reply when necessary and ignore, delete, and move on from the ones that don’t need a response. If a user is that upset about one of your ads in their newsfeed, just simply respond by letting them know how they can opt out and move on. They have made it very clear that they are not your target audience so there is no need to fight.

Social ads are still evolving. As the targeting gets better on both Twitter and Facebook I believe we are going to see these ads and sponsored posts become less intrusive, more relevant, and actually helpful in many cases. The better my social networks can understand my behavior and throw me an add or two that can solve a problem , recommend a gift, or remind me about an upcoming event, I am happy to oblige.

The Worst Possible Thing You Can Do is Start a War.

It happens every single day across the board. Businesses and marketers seem to fly off the handle when challenged in social. Just last week I read a horrific account of a business owner who seems to have completely lost his mind verbally attacking a customer over a complaint. It eventually escalated into one of the most read stories of the day and a true PR nightmare for what looks to be a pretty decent restaurant.

How could this have been avoided? That’s the point behind this entire post; don’t take things personally. The importance of having thick skin in and around social media is only going to become more important moving forward as more and more voices start to chime in.

Find every person who says something nice about your business and reward them with a simple thank you.

Celebrate what you do well, find every person who says something nice about your business and reward them with a simple thank you. For those who are on the attack take a deep breath, put yourself in their shoes, and respond quickly. You will likely be able to determine within a few responses whether or not this one can be resolved or if it’s a lost cause. If it’s the latter, move on to the next. Getting into a shoving match in an open forum does nothing for either party involved. When others in the community see that you have made an attempt to help, that’s your justification and will likely be your safety net from future attacks. Other community members will see this and know you are trying to do the right thing and often come in to show support for your efforts.

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