Consider this post from the Calgary Farmer’s Market Facebook page:
Their family is growing. Get it?
It’s visual, witty, and to the point, that’s for sure. All in all, a pretty great ad. Unfortunately, not everyone on Facebook sees it that way.
Wouldn’t you know it, someone thinks that this is animal porn and boy oh boy are they angry about it. Presumably this person also spends her time writing angry letters about the Discovery channel and sending harassing messages to David Attenborough. And naturally, there’s more than one offended person:
However, note something here: the Calgary Farmer’s Market is responding with light-hearted puns. And it’s an effective strategy.
For many years, lots of businesses have responded to criticism by trying to accommodate their critics. Ask anyone who’s worked retail and you’ll no doubt hear stories about a Can-I-Speak-to-Your-Manager-type who pitches a fit and gets rewarded for their bad behaviour. The idea seems to be: make the whiner go away as soon as possible.
The problem with this approach online is that a) there’s so much more bad behaviour than in person, b) you’re pretty much guaranteed to attract negative feedback the second you say anything online, and c) you can’t please everyone anyway.
That’s why we’re discussing this ad. It’s not content marketing, but content marketers must deal with the same social media challenges as advertisers (and any business that operates in social media), and we can all learn thing or two from the Calgary Farmer’s Market approach.
They’re unwilling to accommodate the criticism they’ve received and they’re unwilling to delete these comments. Instead, they respond with light-hearted puns. As you can see, this approach is hugely popular amongst the other 99% of the people they’re engaging with. And why not?
Brands, take note: you don’t have to mollify, coddle, or otherwise work hard for every jerk that shows up in your social media. To be sure, some people have real problems that they express in an unpleasant way and you do owe those people engagement. But others are just jerks. They’re the Patty and Selma Bouviers of the world, out to be grumpy on Facebook and everywhere else. If you encounter one of these social media wet blankets, just let them be. Crack a joke, don’t stand for their abuse, and if you must hit back, do it in style. Because, as we’ve seen, the rest of your customers are tired of this kind of negativity in the comments section too.