The Social Media Trolls Will Always Be With Us

KenMueller
Ken Mueller Owner/Partner, Inkling Media

Posted on February 7th 2014

The Social Media Trolls Will Always Be With Us

I love social media, and the potential that it has for us, both on the personal and business levels. Just yesterday I was extolling the power of social media in my post, while the day before I was scratching my head at how some can use social media in a nasty way.

And now today I seem to be back to the bad side of things.

This week, CVS Pharmacies took to their Facebook page to announce that they were getting out of the tobacco business. As it turns out, cigarettes and other tobacco products account for more than $2-billion of the company’s annual revenue. While that’s only about 1.6% of their total revenue, that is still a lot of money, and it’s a very bold move to make, and I applaud them for it.

Now I don’t know the true motivation behind this move, so I’ll go with what they say: that they are  health care company that wants to take a greater stand for promoting good health. To me, this is not only a step in the right direction, but I hope that it’s part of an overall shift in their cultural mindset and business model. Sure, they might have ulterior motives, but still a good move. Right?

CVS social media

Post by CVS.

And this will make most everyone, with the exception of smokers, happy. Right?

Well, I thought so. And sure enough, their Facebook page started filling up with people praising them for this effort, and their update got a lot of shares. And, not surprisingly, there were a number of smokers who said they’d be moving their prescriptions to other pharmacies. No big deal.

But within 5 minutes of posting about this initiative, the trolls went to work. People not just criticizing, but downright attacking CVS because apparently this wasn’t enough. After all, they still sold potato chips, cookies, and other junk food that causes health problems. And soda! And unhealthy makeup! And apparently they are pushing all sorts of nasty pills. And there were a lot of these attacks, as if people had a bone to pick with CVS and had been rehearsing these complaints for months, just waiting for the company to announce something like this so they could  put them in their place.

complainers The Social Media Trolls Will Always Be With Us

I gave up reading after awhile, amazed that people could take something good, and in a very mean spirited way, turn it into something bad. And there were dozens of these types of comments, perhaps hundreds, with people trying to shout the company down.

To their credit, CVS seemed prepared and did a great job of responding to the criticisms in a very pleasant, informed, and even handed way. Clearly they were ready for this and knew what to say, even though most of these folks wouldn’t be satisfied with anything.

The truth is, the trolls will always be here. No matter how hard you try, no matter how wonderful you are, no matter what good things you may try to do, there will always be someone to tear you down. There will always be someone for whom your actions aren’t good enough.

The trolls will always be with us. Our job is to recognize them, respond to them (when appropriate) and to do so kindly. And then, perhaps, we just walk away. Trying to reason with trolls won’t work. Shouting back will only get you in trouble.

Kudos to CVS, not only for their new stance on tobacco, but for handling the negative comments (as far as I can tell) with grace and poise. I see this as a start of something new and exciting and expect more changes down the line. Remember, CVS is a major corporation, the 40th largest in the world. Change doesn’t come easy to any business, let alone one that large. We should never expect that they would make major changes rapidly, and they shouldn’t be expected to bow to the whims and demands of every special interest group at the drop of a hat.

So keep an eye out for the trolls and understand they will always be with us. They’ll show up when you least expect it and give you a hard time. This goes for both businesses and nonprofits, large or small.

My challenge to you is to think before you post or comment. Don’t be one of the trolls. If you feel the need to post something negative, think long and hard. Are you being combative? Even if you think you have a valid point, does the recipient deserve your comment? Is there perhaps a nicer way to make your statement and get your point across?

Stop and think about how your comment would sound to you, if someone who disagreed with you were to make a similar statement in the same way. Would you be bothered, or perhaps think they were being boorish or a jerk?

Just something to think about.

Now go on over to the CVS page on Facebook and let them know you appreciate the changes they are starting to make.

KenMueller

Ken Mueller

Owner/Partner, Inkling Media

The founder of Inkling Media, where he does social media and marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. He also is an adjunct professor at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, teaching continuing education classes in social media and inbound marketing.
See Full Profile >

Comments

Very good article and Yes, CVS has done a thing which no one would have dared to do since long time. Really appreciate them.

I guess trolls are a valid part of the ecosystem, just like the rest. Wanting to have social media without trolls would be like wanting a lake without mosquitoes! :-b