I watched Mellissah Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Marketing Eye light a fire.

Through her controversial blog Why married women are more successful, Mellissah ignited a huge online debate that could not be contained. The post went viral, receiving 54,256 views in less than 24 hours (over 72,000 to date) and Mellissah was bombarded with virtual high-fives and business opportunities that grew from her simple 400 word piece. 
How trolls generate you leads


Then came the negative comments. There were insults, threats, attempted personal attacks (rendered invalid as the attackers did not, in fact know Mellissah personally). Trolls spent hours punching out long-winded rebuttals to the article that were so heated they lost sense towards the end. It was manic, and very unpleasant to witness.

While my first instinct was to shut down the piece, Mellissah watched nonchalantly as her work was shared thousands of times over across the net. This is when I learned: an article cannot go viral without negative comments; it takes raising a contentious issue (like married vs. single women) and letting it explode through detractors feverishly commenting and sharing it. Trolls are good for business, I learned.

Since that ‘married’ post, Mellissah averages 1,000 – 10,000 views on her LinkedIn posts per week. And people are still talking about that piece.

How do you generate business from negative comments?

Monitoring: use the award-winning free tool Hootsuite to give you a clear picture of how people are responding to your posts. iTunes and Google Play are mobile apps suitable if you manage several pages and often work on the fly.

Planning: define an in-house policy of how comments – good and bad - are dealt with so that your followers aren’t receiving mixed messages.

Curating: by all means stick to your guns, however if there is content that will offend others, or does not address the issue at hand, remove it e.g. “I don’t agree with your view at all” is harmless whereas “You’re a waste of %$@! space” is not conducive to your mission.

Responding: I’m sure a few LinkedIn users received a big shock when the CEO jumped online to personally address their questions. If your work elicits a big response, use it as an opportunity to engage with your audience.

Repeating: Don’t write controversially just for the sake of going viral. Have the gumption to share your unique view, unabashed by the negative it may attract.

If your posts garner comments, you’ve lit a spark within your readership; now your role is to contain the fire, and use it to generate business.
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Anna James

Anna James is an experienced, doggedly determined journalist with a passion for business and creative PR. Starting out in publishing, Anna loves putting together a good story and has written across a multitude of genres and styles for a varied audience. A former sports reporter, Anna shifted her focus to entrepreneurial blogging and regularly contributes to Entrepreneur Magazine and Bigcommerce. Launching her freelance writing company in 2013, Anna has worked for Woman’s Day, Fox Sports, NSW Parliament, FilmInk Magazine, xoJane and several other publications.

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