content fears & trolls
Debbie Ekins

Debbie Ekins

How to overcome the fear of people trolling your business blog

When I first saw the notification I got that little dopamine hit 🎯 You know the one!

Then…I saw when it said and that euphoria was quickly replaced by an altogether different bunch of feelings and thoughts….

“Who does he think he is, this is my video”

“Omg, is everyone going to think this guy is right and I’m wrong”

“What if I AM wrong, I should double check”

“I shouldn’t let this bother me, it’s a faceless man on the internet”

“Why is this bothering me so much, let it go…”

That’s just a little insight into my overactive brain in the seconds following notification of a negative comment on content that I’ve created.

In this instance, it was a comment left on a now client’s video about swimming pools by an “industry peer” (I had made the video a few years ago when I was an employee of theirs).

I won’t bore you with the entire comment. It was pretty long, technical and aggressive. But the gist of it was:

“You are wrong, I am right, here is why you need to correct your video…”

I’d love to say that comments like this don’t bother me, but…they do! 

However, it definitely used to be a bigger problem for me. I’d go as far as to say that it used to deter me from creating content.

And from speaking to people the fear of getting trolled is something that stops people from creating content or blogs. 

There is a very real possibility that at some point you will get disagreement on your content, from customers or those within your peer network. Some of those comments may spark a conversation, while others might be aggressive and trolling. 

So, in this blog, I thought I’d look at how to overcome the fear of these comments, and why in the context of creating content a couple of negative comments shouldn’t stop you from helping your potential customers make the best possible choices.

Why would you be worried about people disagreeing with you on the internet?

Em….It’s 2021 (end of section)

No, but really. It’s potentially the most partisan, argumentative the internet has ever been. You could write about the most harmless, unambiguous of subjects and still get backlash. 

For example:

“The sky is blue”

A pretty unanimously agreed upon statement right?

Wrong! Do not pass go, do not collect £200. 

What about when it’s cloudy and the sky is grey (like it is 90% of the time in Glasgow)?

Or during a sunset – when the sky is yellow and purple and red and orange?

What about when it’s night-time and the sky is dark?

Or, what if the colour blue doesn’t really exist and it’s a manifestation created by our alien overlords (genuine theory btw).

It’s the lovely whatabout-ery 

My point is, this is 2021 on the internet. 

You will always have someone who disagrees with you and thinks it their public duty to loudly inform everyone of all the ways in which you are wrong. Just take a quick look at FB comments on ANYTHING for proof. 

So, if that’s the case anyway, why not make sure that you are delivering the very best, valuable content possible to your customers and potential customers? Rather than worrying about the odd troll or jealous peer disagreeing with you…

Easier said that done I know. But here are some ways to overcome the fear of being trolled…

How to deal with online confrontation on your business content…

So, how do you deal with, and overcome the fear of online confrontation on your business blog?

There are a couple of steps that I think that you can take. 

  1. Accept that people will troll/disagree with you…
  2. Distinguish between trolls and people who are trying to engage/converse with you
  3. Respond publicly (where appropriate) and increase trust
  4. There is usually more than one correct answer…
  5. Create content to deal with it

1. Accept that people will troll/disagree with you…

The first (and potentially most important) thing to note is that it probably will happen 🤷 

It sucks!

I would love to tell you to just hit publish – no one will ever disagree with you.

But that would be a lie.

The truth is that most people who are consistently creating content have had to contend with people trolling or disagreeing with them at some point. The very act of creating content will inevitably attract people – and not all those people are going to agree with you 100% of the time.

So make peace with it now, before hitting publish. That way, if it happens you are ready, if it doesn’t you’re laughing.

2. Distinguish between trolls and people who are respectfully disagreeing with you…

Not everyone who disagrees with you will be a troll. 

It’s important to distinguish between those who are respectfully disagreeing and generating conversation, and those who are out to criticise or belittle you. 

Most of the time, people publicly disagreeing with you online are not doing it to be a troll or nasty. They genuinely have a different opinion and wish to share or discuss it. 

It can still be annoying, especially if they don’t communicate it properly as it’s easy to come across harsher online than in person. 

But, take the personal reaction out of it, and try to decipher between genuine nasty trolls and those who are just trying to discuss, or even show off a little.

And remember, conversation online is great for engagement. 

In fact, if you are posting something on social media it’s what you want. So much so, that some people create specific strategies around creating controversial content that people will react to. 

While it would be great to get one hundred comments just saying: “OMG, yes you are amazing” on absolutely everything you publish. It’s also a pretty unrealistic expectation to set. So don’t be afraid of people who disagree with you. And be prepared to engage back with them in a respectful and constructive manner.

3. Respond publicly (where appropriate) to build trust…

How you respond will depend on whether they are being polite or trolling.

If someone has disagreed with you (politely), then responding and explaining your position, or continuing conversation can not only build trust, but can help frame you as a leader in your industry. 

Remember it’s your content. Everyone has the right to comment on it, but you ultimately control the conversation as it’s your work they are responding to.

If it’s a troll well that’s a different story. If it’s irrelevant then you can delete it. 

Otherwise, if it’s someone who might have some level of authority on the matter (usually an industry peer) who is being rude/aggressive or condescending then it might be an idea to respond. 

But don’t do this in haste or anger. Think about your response, keep it to the point and don’t get drawn into a back and forth argument. 

Again, this can be an opportunity to reinforce your point, and set you apart as an authority on the subject. 

At the end of the day you should only be publishing things you believe in, so you should have no issue standing by them. 

4. Remember, there is more than one right answer…

This one is really something that anyone commenting on your content should remember, although it’s worth keeping in mind yourself.

For almost everything, there could be more than one right answer. Very few people (if any) work in an industry where there is one absolute, undisputed truth.

And that’s okay.

In the case of the comment that I was talking about in the beginning – we were actually talking about two different types of pool construction.

Both of us could be correct, it was just two different ways to skin a cat (of course, they refused to accept and insisted I was stupid and deceitful – but that’s neither here nor there).

Our content in part, helps to reinforce our beliefs, and justify the reasons for this.

If someone disagrees with you, they are not necessarily wrong. They just have different way of doing things. It’s okay for you to (politely) point this out to them.

5. Create content to respond to negative comments…

In true content marketing style, everything is a content opportunity. Even this blog was created as a result of online confrontation.

If someone else thinks it, and is commenting it, then you can bet that there is probably someone else out there thinking the same. So you may as well get ahead and create content to deal with the issue/concern.  

Don’t be afraid to use the comments left on your content to create and inform content (if possible).

Things to remember about creating content…

You now know how to distinguish between comments and deal with them. 

But there are a couple of things I think it’s important to keep in mind. This should help diffuse any fears that you have about publishing content. 

  1. You are a small, niche business
  2. Content is provided free of charge
  3. Haters gonna hate
  4. You are allowed to have your own opinions

1. You are a small (niche) business…

First of all, unless you are a massive global conglomerate (which, let’s face it if you are reading this you probably aren’t) then you’ll mostly fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny on a mass scale.

Sure, the initial objective of creating content is to increase traffic. So by creating content you’ll naturally have more people visiting your website and therefore a higher chance of receiving criticism than you do now. 

But it’s important to put it into perspective. You’re probably not going to make headlines and tonnes of negative comments. Probably.

So, don’t blow it out of proportion. The benefits of creating content are far greater than the potential downfalls.

Related content:

2. You create content for FREE

I kind of hate saying this because, although it’s free, content is EXTREMELY valuable. And in my opinion you should be creating it for your customers, in order to help educate and help them make better decisions. 

However, that does not negate the fact that you create content for FREE. Not everyone out there is creating quality and valuable content (and it’s often these people who end up criticising you).

I’ve had people criticize blogs and videos telling me what I should have included.

But the truth is no piece of content will be perfect. You need to include what you think is important and relevant. And not everyone will agree with your perspective on what is important or relevant (and they’ll let you know).

It’s your content. And it’s free. As long as you think it accurately represents the topic, then stand by that then that’s enough.

If someone thinks it should include something then they are welcome to go and create their own content. That’s the beauty of it being FREE.

3. Haters gonna hate…

Like the great Taylor Swift once sand:

“Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate, I’m just gonna shake shake shake, shake it off” 

Negative Nancy’s exist.

Creating content puts you centre stage. It makes you a thought leader and for some people, this makes you a target. 

There will always be negative people. There will always be people that find it easier to critisice than to build people up. It’s not fair but it’s something everyone has to accept. 

4. You are allowed to have opinions…

Guess what! 

Your content is yours. You made it. And you are allowed to say (pretty much) whatever you like.

A few years ago I think a lot of people would have disagreed with this in itself. Businesses were supposed to be Switzerland. They were supposed to be neutral ground. They were not supposed to divulge any strong opinions.

But now, people are value-driven. And many consumers in the younger generations want the businesses they buy from to share and express those values.

Content is a great way to express your opinions or your stance, and if done correctly it can be very powerful.

So, should you let trolls stop you from creating content?

You’ve got two options.

One, you can stay hidden in the shadows, and avoid creating content. You won’t get any trolls, but you also won’t reap the benefits of creating content.

Or two, you can create content knowing that you might be trolled or criticised. But, with the knowledge to deal with it if (and when) it happens.

I know which one I’d choose (pretty obvious if you are reading this blog).

And trust me…It gets less scary.

The truth is now, when I hit publish on a blog I don’t really consider how it will be received by internet trolls. I might worry about how potential customers will view it, but that just pushes me to ensure it’s valuable and relevant. 

And really that’s what creating content is all about…

So, are you ready to start your own blog?

If you’re thinking about creating content, but want someone to take the stress out of it then get in touch to find out more about my blog writing services.

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