As a small business owner or personal brand, your reputation is critical to your success. It is how people view you and differentiate you from others which helps get you more business. A good brand image is not an easy feat though. It requires planning, hard work and diligence. You need to be able to engage, interact, and build a community around your brand. Since your brand image is so important, it’s essential that you do your best to protect it.
There are times though when you simply can’t please everyone. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, there may be occasions when someone decides that they don’t like you or your business and start making disgruntling comments or attacking you. Maybe they didn’t like what you said in your blog, maybe it was a comment you posted in your forum that miffed them, or maybe they simply don’t like the way you dress. No matter what the reason is, somehow someone has decided to target all his disgruntlement at you, and is so upset with your brand that he is doing his best to discount you and your brand.
So what do you do during times like these?
Should you simply ignore the discounting and hope that the person will eventually get tired and go away? Or should you confront the disgruntled person and fight back for your personal brand?
Let’s look at the options above.
Ignoring the discounting might make it go away, since the poster may eventually get tired of spouting insults and other complaints about your brand. The problem with this is, your audience may read or hear about it, and seeing that you have absolutely no response may lead them to believe what the person is saying about you. They may even start talking about it and what began as a simple discounting by a disgruntled person could spiral into a scandal that could ruin your brand image completely.
On the other hand, is confronting the person a better option? If a person is attacking you, you should fight back, right? Perhaps you should start matching them reply for reply and rebutting every argument against you. Perhaps you should even retaliate even more violently by attacking their social media accounts as well.
But that route is definitely much worse for your brand. If you become aggressive and lose control, you may end up ruining your image even more. You become the victim of your anger, and the comments of the disgruntled person suddenly become pale in comparison with your angry rampage.
So is there another option?
The most important thing you can do in a situation like this is to keep calm. You know that the disgruntled discounting has no validity, but you can’t ignore it as well since doing that may make the issue even bigger.
So you need to be proactive in the way you address the issue, while still remaining in control. Don’t let the discounting affect you – the poster isn’t important. What’s important is your reputation so you need to protect it by defending it in a polite and intelligent way.
You can use your social media accounts to let your audience know about the issue and what you’re doing to address it. Your loyal audience is sure to rally around you as well, so this will definitely work to your advantage.
Be the better man (or woman) and don’t stoop down to their level. These people are beneath you, and you’re only giving them a little bit of attention in order to protect your reputation. Say your piece and let your audience know that the poster has no grounds to what they’re complaining or discounting your brand about. Your audience will eventually realize that the poster is simply a disgruntled and unhappy person who has way too much time on his hands.
As a personal brand or small business owner, protecting your brand is vital to your success. So it’s important that you remain in control. Be aware of what’s happening, don’t ignore the issue since it could become even bigger, but be the better man and don’t stoop down to their level. Address the issue proactively and then let the community you’ve built around your brand rally around you and defend you.
If you’ve built a good following, you can definitely expect some angry followers sometime along the way. But just remember to keep calm. You can never really please everyone in the world; you can only do your best and hope that people appreciate your efforts.
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat – a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.