Now that anyone can be a publisher online, some people with a bone to pick are bound to create hate blogs – blogs created just to spew venom at the person, company or brand they hate. As a social media professional, sooner or later you’re bound to have to deal with one.
Here are some of the steps you can take to deal with hate blogs:
1. Monitor the Situation
The first thing you should do is simply monitor the blog. What are the trends you see in its content? Are the posts frequent? Do they cover the same subjects? What kind of traffic does it get?
One hate blog we dealt with had a lot of comments back and forth. Closer inspection, however, showed all the “people” commenting had the exact same grammar patterns as the blog author. It turned out he was mostly talking to himself.
The more you learn about the blog and its author(s), the better you can analyze what to do next. For instance, if it publishes infrequently and has very few readers and page visits, it might be best to just ignore it. Making a fuss would only bring it a bigger audience and give it more credibility.
2. Respond and Correct
When it you decide to engage the blogger, do it calmly and with purpose. Here’s some good advice from Brandon Chesnutt, Social Media Director at Identity, a Detroit public relations firm.
“I recommend responding ONLY if you’re correcting false information and providing complementary links,” said Chesnutt. “ It’s easy to do this when you have a newsroom, blog or media story that contains the right information. However, trying to address an individual’s opinion on a situation can be very hard to navigate. You should prepare a statement that comes from the client contact who would likely be conversing with the author and inject your client’s voice into the conversation. If you can link to a posted statement that contradicts the hater’s POV, post it”
“This takes some of the “power” away from the author since they no longer own the conversation. However, responses should not be posted on every single entry. Select one post, comment and monitor it for an extended period of time. Offer to take the conversation to a private channel or reiterate company policy regarding consumer complaints whenever possible. Just know that every conversation on any medium from then on would likely end up on the blog. So be prepared. “
3. Fight Content with Content
When monitoring, check to see how often the blog comes up in searches. Do searches on your company and other key words you rank high in. Does this blog show up high in the results or frequently? If it not, you might want to just monitor it for now.
However, if it’s fairly prominent in your searches, try creating your own quality content that tells a positive story. Creating a stream of good content accomplishes two things (1) push the hate blog further down the search rankings and (2) give your brand another voice in the conversation where you can address the issues from your point of view.
A company blog is a perfect place to start. It gives you a place where you can control the conversation, address negative issues and correct misinformation. If the hate blog author comments on your blog – answering their rants with cool, collective logic will undermine their credibility.
4. Take Legal Action
It may come to the point where you need to take legal action, especially if they are blatantly and purposefully publishing untruths or taking personal attacks. In the case of my client mentioned earlier, the blog in question published one of my client’s personal information, including home address. That night, the tires of her car were slashed.
Kristie Wells, President of Social Media Club, said, “I would (1) file a police report, (2) do a ‘whois’ on the domain name of the hate blog and see what info you can get and (3) secure some legal advice on what to do next.”
If the content posted violates copyright/trademark law or contains proprietary information, a suit can be filed through the proper channels. If you obtain a judgment in your favor and the information in question is listed in the court documents, this information can be submitted to Google and the pages can be de-listed from search results. This is a time-consuming process. But, if you’re hoping to remove all mentions, it can work.
Hate blogs can be a mere annoyance or become dangerous to your brand or even your personal life. With these steps, you can deal with the problem. Of course, there may be other choices. If you’ve had to deal with a hate blog, what did you do and how did it turn out? I’d love to hear your story.