How Haters Can Help Us

There I was, standing in front of a skeptical-looking group of local leaders.  They were eyeing me strangely, with heads cocked to one side and eyebrows up because I had just said something strange.  What sentence had made them look at me that way?  What had I said?  Simple.

“The haters help us.”

I was working with this group of amazing local leaders on an issue in Coshocton County.  We were placing a tax increase on the ballot to fund a local Justice Center.  It was a tax increase.  So of course there were detractors!  In every community, across the country, new taxes are (and should be) looked at skeptically.

Let’s Define Haters

To be clear, those that simply disagreed with the tax levy are NOT who I am calling “haters.”  We have redefined this word to include everyone that disagrees with us.  That is not the case.  Civil discourse is incredibly important.  In addition, for your business, haters are not people who don’t like what you have to offer or those that ask questions.  Both of those are important for you to make your offer better.  Even those that actively complain about you online can add value if you deal with them properly.  I even wrote about 3 simple steps to deal with those complaints (or haters) here.  

In this context, I am talking about the trolls.  These are the people who are overly negative about any issue, service, or product you are promoting.  This group of people is often the smallest but the loudest.  They are mean-spirited, caustic, and intensely filled with vitriol and hate.  No matter how often you try to (kindly) address their concerns, they keep piling on the negativity.  They even sometimes go so far as to create clearly fake accounts so they can make accusations without retribution.

These, my friends, are haters.

So with that definition, you might be asking, “How can the haters help us?”  I am so glad you asked. They really can help a cause or an organization, believe it or not.  Here are two ways.

They Increase Our Reach

This is just delicious.  Here is a simple secret when it comes to social media.  Facebook (and other social media channels) want to keep you on their platform.  In order to do that, the algorithm works to show you things that it believes you will find interesting.  They are in the attention business and in order to keep yours, they want to show you interesting things.  How do they determine what is “interesting?”  While there are many factors, a simple way it is determined is through engagement.  Engagement is measured by likes, shares, AND comments.  So when a “hater” goes off on your page by commenting over and over again, they are telling Facebook that this is interesting and important…so it should show more people.

When managing the page, your first inclination might be to block them or delete their comments, I often advise against it.  I would rather address any legitimate questions to show them (and the rest of the audience) that I care about the engagement.  That shows the algorithm more activity and the audience a genuine desire to address the situation.  The only time I delete comments is if they are profane, threatening, or libelous.

So by “hating” on us, they increase the reach of the message they say they are against.

They Decrease Their Credibility

In addition, this type of character is often a bit obsessive.  They might comment over and over again on different posts saying the same thing.  Or they might attack other people that support your business or offering.  Basically, they are a hater to everyone…not just you and your organization.  This sort of activity decreases their credibility in the rest of the discussion with the rest of the audience.  The more they comment or “hate,” the more they do it.

So if they are decreasing their own influence, and they don’t like what you say, it tends to raise your reputation in the process.

That leads me back to the original sentence.  While this type of person can be frustrating, “the haters help us.”

As a side note, congratulations to all of the community members that worked to pass several levies in the Coshocton community.  It was a good day and I am proud to have had a small part in helping move these initiatives forward.

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Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.