Social media bubbles and echo chambers can make it extremely hard for marketers to penetrate the noise with a positive message.

The social media bubble – a term we are hearing more and more of recently. People surrounding themselves with information and others which supports their own prejudices about how the world is. Something which may sound rather benign at first glance until you see how willing to believe people are in unlikely scenarios and even conspiracies based on little else than an abundance of echoes they themselves have created via filters and algorithms.

It’s much like boiling a frog, by the time you realize you’ve fallen into that kind of bubble, you are already immersed in an environment which supports a world view you were already predisposed to and so even as the water begins to boil, you remain comfortable and unaware.

Technology does not change people any more than a hammer makes a person who picks it up a killer. A hammer can build the Taj Mahal or bash a skull in – depending on the how you employ that technology. The hammer has no idea of destiny – it is a simple tool put to use by us just as is social media.

It’s little wonder that some brand marketers look upon the internet with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the greatest opportunity for marketers since the invention of writing. But on the other hand it is an endless desert of quicksand where the slightest wrong move (no matter how well intentioned) can suck a brand under.

So, what can you do to ensure you don’t walk smiling off a social media cliff?

Listen first

The most underused marketing skill online is listening. We all want to get our messages out there fast and so we fall into that trap where content is all about what we want to say. The focus should always be on what people are saying about us or the topics which are part of us being relevant to them!

It’s like a cocktail party. You don’t go to a party and leap onto a table to announce you’ve arrived. That’s a great way to end up spending your evening gobbling deviled eggs at the buffet while being ignored. A smart person first roams the room from group to group listening and searching for an engaging conversation they can contribute to. Then, when an opportunity presents itself, a smart networker contributes something relevant which also demonstrates their insight/intelligence.

Trust your gut

Ironically, the best thing to do in a digital world is to trust in one of our best gifts as humans; our intuition. Far too often we bury that that little voice trying to warn us and in my own experience in marketing, 9 times out of 10, that little voice is right.

If you are not 100 percent sure of anything you are about to post or tweet. If there is even a little bit of doubt or a very small butterfly in your tummy, don’t post it or email it or tweet it. Leave it for a day and reread it in the morning to see if you still think it’s a good idea. It is better to be late to a party than to be early to a formal event wearing a toga.

Explain, don’t defend

At some point you’ll encounter someone online who doesn’t like your approach or something specific you’ve posted. They may have very valid arguments or they may simply not like your product or service or they may just be having a bad day and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The most important thing is to not take it personally and definitely not react too quickly. Take the time to be sure you understand the person’s point and absolutely see such a negative interaction not as a bad thing but, as an opportunity to demonstrate how your brand reacts to negative feedback! When you react in a positive and constructive way to negativity or criticism online, you demonstrate to other customers and potential customers that your priority is their satisfaction.

All Marketers Have Been There

Every brand and every marketing person out there giving voice to such brands will eventually have to deal with negative interactions and online criticism. Don’t focus on the technology tools being used to spread such comments! Focus on the human nature motivating negative views and try to mingle your way to an understanding. One thing is certainly true – some of your worst critics will become your best allies if they believe you really care about their points of view.