If you are a small handmade business owner you probably have multiple social media accounts and ways for people to contact you to inquire about your products and request custom orders. Unfortunately all these ways of being contacted can open you up to receiving nasty social media attacks. Fortunately this rarely happens but when it does it’s a shock and you may not have all your wits about you so here is a post to refer to if this ever happens to you.
I am a member of several small business Facebook groups and see posts from time-to-time of other small business owners asking for help with how to handle their business being under attack on social media. This blog post covers a few do’s and don’ts when this happens.
If you follow my blog you probably saw Monday’s post where I describe some unpleasant things that happened to me last week when I was falsely accused of copying someone’s quilt pattern. This post is kind of a “Part 2” to that post.
I received a message on Instagram early in the morning on May 9th accusing me of copying the message writer’s pattern. Shortly after that I received an email from a woman named Sara (not the original poster) who accused me again, called me a vulgar name and said she “wished me every unhappiness in life.” Then I had this same Sara request to join my Facebook Group (which I declined). Then another person requested to join my Facebook group (again I declined). The second person then signed up for my newsletter (I went into Mailchimp and unsubscribed her.) This was all in a matter of minutes. Three more messages came in on Instagram posts from Sara and a third woman! None of these people were the original person who was accusing me of copying her pattern.
As you can imagine this was quite alarming and upsetting at first. It is important get the situation under control as much as you can as soon as possible.
Here are my tips for small businesses under attack on social media:
Tip 1 Stay Calm:
Stay calm, keep your head and do not respond to any messages. It is very tempting to tell these people exactly what you think of them but don’t do it. They can screenshot anything to write to them and post it all over the place online.
Tip 2 email:
For email: mark messages as spam and do not reply (unless it’s a death threat… see below)
Tip 3 Instagram:
For Instagram posts: Take a screenshot of their username so you can remember it. Delete their comments. Then block their account. This is important because for one of my posts I blocked a comment writer before I deleted their post and then I couldn’t see their comment to delete it but others can still see it. So I had to turn off comments on that Instagram photo all together. So remember: Delete comments first, then block the person.
If people send you private Instagram messages it’s even easier. Just decline their message and block their account right from Instagram messages.
Tip 4 Facebook:
For Facebook Posts: As above… delete comments first then ban the person from your page if you wish. To do this you must be in your Facebook pages app. Click their profile picture and an option will come up to ban from page. You can also ban from page through Facebook messenger on your page if they send you a private message.
Remember: These are your social media accounts and you control what gets posted on them. It is not your job to present an unbiased post that takes the other side into consideration. You are defending yourself under attack and now is not the time to give patient consideration to the other side of the story! Your social media accounts are for your own self promotion. Use them that way.
The only comments that I left on my social media accounts that favored the other side were comments I replied to in my own defence and I wrote my replies for future people reading them rather than to the comment writer in particular. Much in the same way that you write a response to a bad review on Etsy… you are writing to future customers more so than the customer who left the bad review.
Tip 5 Manage Follow Requests:
If you get any other odd followers, subscribers or group join requests that seem suspicious do not hesitate to decline and/or block.
Tip 6 Find the Source:
Once you have dealt with the immediate influx of hate messages get searching and find the original source as quickly as you can. Within minutes I found the Facebook business page of the woman accusing me of copying and there was a post there in which she named my business. There was a stream of hateful comments on that post and who was writing them? All the people who had sent me nasty messages! Start reporting anything that names your business or encourages other people to attack you online to Facebook for harassment right away. Even if Facebook deems it to not be harassment they will hide the posts while they look into it and that took them three days. By the time they ruled against me the whole thing had blown over (and some they did take down). I notice that after I published Monday’s post this post I am writing about here disappeared from her Facebook page.
Tip 7 Blog:
For your own blog I suggest having comment moderation turned on. If nasty or unwanted comments come through mark them as spam and/or delete. With moderating comments there is no chance a comment can be published and seen by others before you get a chance to approve it. Again, this is your blog and you decide what gets published on it. In my case, I own my blog domain and pay to have it so I definitely do not allow comments against me.
Tip 8: People who adopt a mob mentality have short attention spans.
After 12 hours things had settled down so keep this in mind: The people who insert themselves into other people’s “scandals” and jump on the mob attack mindset are also people with short attention spans who get bored very easily. They will get bored of this scandal and will be moving onto the next witch hunt that comes along very quickly so take comfort in that.
A few more things that can happen but did not happen to me:
Tip 9 Death Threats:
If you get death threats: take screenshots of everything. Do not delete emails or messages in this case. Report everything to the police. This is not something to be taken lightly and charges should be laid.
Tip 10 Facebook Reviews:
If you have Facebook reviews turned on and people start leaving fake reviews. Report all fake reviews to Facebook, request they be deleted and turn your reviews off to quell the damage.
Tip 11 Etsy Convos:
If people are sending you harassing messages through Etsy: tell them not to contact you again and report to Etsy. In many cases Etsy will close down their account.
I hope this post helps you if this unfortunate situation ever befalls you. If you are reading this and are under attack I’m sorry this is happening to you and I hope it’s over soon.