The only thing worse than haters is silence.
In the attention economy, losing wholesale support from vocal minorities as a result of shunning them — even publicly mocking them — is a worst case scenario. Isn’t that what companies and bloggers are asking for when they coldly dismiss disagreeing voices wholesale as haters?
Certainly, to some extent, the “Haters Going to Hate” concept is true. Some people will never agree. In fact, if everyone agrees with you, you’re not talking to enough people. Everyone with some level of online success has kvetches and trolls.
Yet, simply dismissing whole vocal minorities as haters seems like a dangerous proposition for a brand. Lack of responsiveness, and worse uncaring public refusals risks turning upset customers and advocates into the apathetic and the disenfranchised. All because the heat of criticism was too strong to bear. How much churn can a brand sustain?
This is particularly ironic for the social media expert who preaches listening. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. Ah, the hypocrisy.
Perhaps in the end, it is better to acknowledge the differing voice, and respect the right to a minority opinion. Let someone else have the last word, and listen. Maybe, just maybe, they possess an element of truth.
And when we fail (and we all do), go back and own it. Sometimes the apology is well received. It is always a good personal reminder to keep our sides of the street clean in business, and in conversations.
Otherwise, enjoy the silence.