8 Villains of Social Media

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Social Media Marketing sure isn’t easy.  It takes time to get to know the space you’re in, to network with like minded users, and to develop a strong content strategy that works within your niche and target social channels.

But to make matters worse, there are users who can (and will) make your road to success even more difficult.  So in order to prepare you for your journey, here are 8 of the most common villains you’ll encounter on your path, and how to defend against their attacks:

The Troll

Appearance:

An offensive or childish image

Favorite Social Setting:

Video sites, Anywhere comments aren’t actively moderated

Method of Attack:

The Troll comments exclusively with the intent of offending other users in hopes that someone will write a retaliatory comment.  The use of profanity, racism & sexism, wild accusations, and direct attacks are all a part of their arsenal.  It’s sometimes difficult to spot a troll as they can sometimes appear to be a Skeptic or Know-it-all.

Weakness:

The only way to deal with Trolls is to ignore them.  They rarely comment in places that are moderated; and while burying the comment may seem to work, it simply becomes a metric for how well their comment achieved its intended goal.  Ignoring them takes their power away.

The Disrupter

Appearance:

Default avatar/no avatar

Favorite Social Setting:

Blogs

Method of Attack:

The Disrupter makes comments that add nothing to a conversation because they didn’t take the time to read or watch the entire article/video/etc.   They also have a tendency to repeat an earlier comment because they were too lazy to read them as well.  These types of comments can be fairly disruptive to a good social conversation, and are quite annoying on blogs. The Disrupter can sometimes be associated with the Shameless Link Dropper.

Weakness:

Pointedly ignoring them by only responding to other (good) comments is your only defense.  Responding to a Disrupter will only further interrupt the conversation, not to mention: they’re unlikely to see it anyways.  Other users will notice that a well thought out comment that adds to the conversation is rewarded with a response, while these are not.  In rare (extreme) cases, the comment can be removed by the moderator.

The Skeptic

Appearance:

Vectorized image of their favorite science fiction character

Favorite Social Setting:

Social Bookmarking sites like Digg & Reddit

Method of Attack:

The Skeptic is usually the first to claim that something isn’t real.  To them, everything on the internet is fake.  All images are photoshopped, all videos are scripted, and all statistics, facts, and reports are made up by the people who have most to gain by them.  Also, all supporting evidence that the item in question is, in fact, real: is made up as well.  Not to be confused with the Know-it-all.

Weakness:

None.  Ignore them and they become right, provide evidence and they’ll continue to blindly claim you’re spreading the conspiracy (regardless how trustworthy the source).  Your best bet is to bury their comment and hope others will see them for what they really are.

The Shameless Link Dropper

Appearance:

No avatar, A Company logo

Favorite Social Setting:

Blogs, Forums, & Viral Content

Method of Attack:

The Shameless Link Dropper comments only to insert a link for the potential traffic and/or SEO value.  You can generally spot these from the short (usually complimentary) comments (e.g. “Nice post!”), the keyword rich user name (e.g. buy_viagra), second grade grammer skills (e.g. “This is good points”), and the general spamminess of the destination URL.

Weakness:

Strong comment moderation.  It’s also wise to have a comment policy that clearly states that link dropping is not tolerated unless it’s relevant to the conversation.

The Bury Brigade

Appearance:

Can be anyone

Favorite Social Setting:

Social Bookmarking sites like Digg & Reddit

Method of Attack:

Their sole purpose for signing in to Digg or Reddit is to bury submissions that don’t meet their standards of what should be on the front page.  In rare occasions these users group together to target power users who are “too good” at getting submissions to go popular.  They also have a tendency to fill out spam reports and report users & sites to moderators.

Weakness:

Power users.  Nothing frustrates the Bury Brigade like social bookmarking success.  And if one of these users dislikes one of your submissions, unless you’re a power user, you could be dead in the water.

The Whistle Blower

Appearance:

Smug photos of themselves

Favorite Social Setting:

Social Bookmarking sites like Digg & Reddit

Method of Attack:

Calling content producers out for anything they suspect is done for profit, for example: splash advertising, article pagination, SEO link bait, “blog spam”, promotional content, etc.

Weakness:

Extraordinary content.  Despite all of the above things being somewhat annoying to most users, you can get away with some of it if the content is remarkable enough.  The Whistle Blower will still probably call you out for it, but it will fall on deaf ears as (to others) the quality of the content overshadows the minor pet-peeve.

The Know-it-all

Appearance:

A slightly altered photo of Einstein or a mash-up of mathematical equations.

Favorite Social Setting:

Forums, EVERYWHERE

Method of Attack:

The Know-it-all rarely comments unless it’s to disagree with or correct the content producer or another user’s comment.  They’re generally great fact checkers and revel in correcting a specific fact, but would rather argue about opinions.  They also love to point out grammatical errors.

Weakness:

Strong (yet modest) arguments.  It’s nearly impossible to change the mind of the Know-it-all.  Your best bet is to respond to them with rational arguments that present a strong case in a modest tone.  Let their arrogance and opinionated argument work against them making you look like the rational, impartial one to everyone else.

The Emo

Appearance:

Anyone

Favorite Social Setting:

Anywhere

Method of Attack:

The Emo only attacks when disturbed, usually when taking a comment or criticism too personally.  An attack can come in any form or level of extremes depending on the individual & emotional reaction. A conversation between an Emo and a Troll or Know-it-all can be volatile.

Weakness:

Time.  Tread carefully when you upset an Emo.  You may think a quick response to defend yourself or perhaps even explain your comments is a good idea, but most of the time it only makes matters worse.  Depending on how upset they are, time may be required for them to calm down before you’re able to start up a rational conversation about whatever upset them.  And sometimes, it’s wise to just let it go…

Todd Heim

Todd Heim

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.
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