I saw a joke on Google+ yesterday. It simply said:
How to start an argument online
- State an opinion.
There’s some truth in this
Many small business owners lack visibility online, because they fear being challenged for expressing their own opinions. So, they will like, retweet, +1 and stumble what others say and ensure their own messages are as uncontentious as possible. Whilst this approach does almost eliminate confrontation, it also robs you of the visibility you need, in order to succeed.
- Your marketplace listens to you, when you have a message worthy of their valuable attention.
- They follow you, when you lead. Not when you simply nod along like everyone else at the back.
Business should be challenging
Yes, you will get challenged, if you have the courage to share what you think and it happens to go against the grain. If you believe in the value of your opinion, you should welcome people to test what you say. In many cases, you will learn something about the strength of your own view point. In others, you will learn how to make your point more clearly. I have learned a great deal from people, who have caused me to dig deep and question my own opinions.
Looking through their lens
So, what about those people who just seem intent on arguing, when you confidently express your opinion? A quick look at what you have said, through their lens, as Chris Brogan says, will usually show you (in seconds) why they are arguing with you. Looking through their lens, is a phrase used to describe looking at what you said, from their perspective, so you can identify their motives.
Here’s what I commonly find, when I look through the lens of someone intent on arguing rather than discussing a viewpoint:
Vested interests: They have a vested interest in the opposing view. I saw a recent post by a guy who said that traditional networking groups were becoming less relevant, as more people connected with others on services like LinkedIn and Facebook etc. He was attacked by a lady who said online networking was of zero value, zero use and that he was in denial. After clicking through the link on her comment, I saw she ran several offline networking groups. Her business model needs that guy to be wrong.
Trolls: You are dealing with a troll. Trolls are going to troll, it’s what they do. Welcome to the Internet. It’s your call, but if they are only looking to insult you, there’s little value publishing their abuse or responding to their jibes on social networks. Seriously, you would not allow someone to do that to you in public and you shouldn’t online either. If someone’s just being a bastard, there’s no room for that in my business and I’m guessing the same is true for your business, too.
They want your juice: They want to gain your attention or the attention of your readers / followers. Some people seem to believe that it’s an effective marketing technique, to argue with people in their profession on social networks and on their competitors blogs. This is pretty rare and tends to happen more when you have a large readership or online following and a reputation for publishing comments that disagree with you.
I’ve written thousands of blog posts and only ever needed to delete a handful of trollish comments. Others who challenge my views, often open up the conversation and that’s how I evaluate their input: As an asset.
It’s your marketing and your decision, but it’s extremely hard to attract the attention of your prospective clients or earn their respect, if you’re simply nodding along with the masses.