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Haters gonna hate, advocators gonna advocate: how to turn one into the other

Social & Digital

Haters gonna hate, advocators gonna advocate: how to turn one into the other


For Kevin Ross, social identity and brand reputation depend on how consumers react and talk about your  brand. Here are his tips for taking customer reactions and complaints and turning them around into positive consumer conversations.

Social identity is shaped by a range of subjective factors. Arguably, the three most important of these are: how people talk about your brand; how you position your brand; and how you involve others in the conversation. These aspects of social engagement define how you are perceived and ultimately, motivate people to act either through transaction or conversion.

Advocates and detractors

Advocates are people who become brand ambassadors through a series of positive interactions; these people are likely to tell five people every time they have a positive experience. The contrast to this are detractors; people who, through poor customer experience, are motivated to do the opposite and will tell ten people when they’re dissatisfied.

Social media now plays a significant role in brand identity, enabling both groups to broadcast their opinions and perspectives of your brand to a global audience. So how can brands have conversations with both Advocates and Detractors, and improve their social identity in the process? We offer up three steps to get you on your way.

1. Acknowledge

The role of the community manager has never been more important than it is today, and you don’t have to be a social expert to start having meaningful interactions with your customers. In fact, many companies have policies to acknowledge customer complaints within a set period of time to ensure transparency and commitment to resolving the complaint.

Many users who express frustration on social channels say they value first being acknowledged by a brand before attempting to resolve their issue. One of the easiest ways to express empathy with your customers is to acknowledge their frustration and listen to what they have to say. The worst thing you can do as a brand is to ignore an irate and dissatisfied person, this will only fuel the frustration and provoke them to continue on their tirade, damaging your brand’s social identity.

2. Apologise and rectify

One misconception about resolving a dissatisfied customer experience is to offer up refund or replacement of a product or service or a gesture of goodwill e.g. voucher or discount. Although some users would accept the offer to refund or replace, more often than not they are seeking an apology and for a brand to claim ownership of their issue.

Once your customer is aware that you have acknowledged their frustration, it’s vital you begin to rectify the situation to ensure they leave the interaction confident in your abilities to own their poor experience. Offer up solutions to their problems and explore ways to ensure the same issue does not arise.

3. Get talking

You don’t have to wait for a poor experience, or a good one, to make for a great social interaction.

This can be achieved by simply engaging with users online and sparking a new conversation. Through this, brands are able to engage in meaningful conversations and forge new relationships.

Social media has given brands the ability to build relationships with their consumer base and form online communities, enabling people to connect and engage with each other and building brand advocacy. It’s important to not only engage with these people, but to also to contribute to an environment where future interactions can take place. After all, if you’re not talking to your customers, your competitor just might be.


Kevin Ross is ANZ general manager at SDL.


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