Tips: How to deal with non-vegans commenting on your business's social media

No matter how kind you are, there are always going to be people who are not so kind. 

We all do our best to create considered posts which
appeal to our followers, and that effort can sometimes be rewarded with negativity, jokes in bad taste, uneducated derision, and even blatant hostility.

The 10 tips you need to remember:

1. For every 1 negative comment or message you receive, you’re receiving at least 10 positive ones.

OK so that number may be quite a few less, or more. But the most important thing to concentrate on is that there are more people being nice than those being mean. They are the people who like and want what you offer – they are your tribe. If you’re going to be an energy sponge (which I can be too!), then make a choice to only absorb the positive. Let the negative ones go; their negativity says a lot more about them as a person than about you, or your business.

2. Don’t ‘hide’ negative comments on Facebook.

The number of comments on will still show the full number of comments (including hidden), but people will only be able to view non-hidden comments. This then leads to people commenting about censorship. It’s much better to leave negative comments viewable, unless they’re incredibly offensive in which case just delete them.

 

3. Don’t reply to negative comments.

Replying only adds fuel to the fire, even if you’re being patient and kind. It always inevitably results in some sort of keyboard rage from one side or another (or somebody else who has hopped into the arena), and it’s only going to reflect badly on your business. Often, what you will witness is that if you leave the negative comments alone your tribe will reply on your behalf and say the things that you may think, yet couldn’t possibly say (certainly not whilst also remaining professional).

4. Don’t reply to negative messages.

They’re not worth your time or energy. As soon as you can see that it’s going to be a message written purely to generate negativity, delete it. Don’t read the whole thing. Don’t re-read it. Don’t ask someone else’s opinion. Don’t start typing a reply. Don’t ingest it. Just delete. Someone may have taken the time to type you a negative message, but there is no reason for you to give any time to it in return.

 

"Let your tribe reply on your behalf - they will say the things that you may think, but couldn’t possibly reply yourself as a professional business!"

5. For persistent offenders, block them from your page.

If they just won’t leave you alone, take that choice out of their hands. It’s easy to block someone from your business page (Google it), so it’s best to take five minutes to do that instead of having to deal with them constantly.

6. It’s only personal if you allow it to be.

It’s not personal. Well, it is. This is a cause which is very close to our hearts, and for many of us it defines who we are. So, any attack or negativity feels very personal. However, this isn’t your personal page. You can’t put your company on pause whilst you decide to go virtual vegan-Rocky on them. You’ve always got to be professional.

That doesn’t mean be without personality, or heart; but it does mean that you can’t get into slanging matches, or down and dirty with a keyboard warrior, or having arguments or wrestling matches in the street outside your shop, or swear in any shape or form. Keep it kind. Keep it professional. Never allow it to get personal.

As soon as you feel it pulling those strings, give yourself a breather and let it go. It’s not worth the negativity it would cause you or your business. If people don’t understand, then they’re not your tribe, they’re not your customers, they’re not your audience, they’re not the people you’re trying to please.

 

7. Do reply to non-vegans genuinely asking for education.

There are some comments or questions which you might initially think are negative. However, just pause for a moment before you write them off completely. Sometimes people are genuinely asking to understand something (even if they haven’t technically asked a question).

So, if they are wanting knowledge, then give it! It’s always best to reference facts and figures, so perhaps also (or instead) direct them towards someone already well versed and armed with all the educated responses in this sector (for example, Earthling Ed is always a good bet for vegan questions).

If someone asks how vegans survive on vegetables, isn’t it boring, isn’t it expensive living on meat replacements, there are plenty of YouTube vegan cooking channels which can help people to see just how interesting, tasty and thrifty plant-based cooking is.

8. Check if a comment or message can lead to you doing some myth-busting posts.

This links in with educating people, as above. If you can manage to be a super myth-buster, you can channel your inner vegan hero and your tribe will love you even more! Myth-busting is even better if you can link it to your business or back to your products.

 

"The vast majority of us have not been vegan our entire lives; remember you were like them once, still utterly uneducated about all the things we now know"

9. Don’t mistake constructive criticism for negativity.

We’re all guilty of being defensive at times. Especially when it comes to the things and people which matter to us the most. So, if someone criticises our business it’s easy to take that personally and go on the front-line defence. They can’t possibly have a point, they’re being negative, they’re not really vegan, the list goes on. Before we write their criticism off as being utterly void because it doesn’t match our own viewpoint, sleep on it. Come back to it. Is there anything positive you can take from it, any changes you can make which bears in mind their feedback?

Are there any follow-up questions you can ask to clarify? For example, if someone has (been what seems like a complete idiot and) said that your food is awful, ask them what specific offering they tried. You’ll often find that they’ve only tried one thing, and it wasn’t to their taste. My favourite example of this was someone who said they’d only tried the Bakewell tart cake, and further investigation revealed that they ‘hate’ both cherries and almonds! A fresh visit to that café and free piece of (non-Bakewell tart) cake later, they gave a glowing follow-on review and became a regular customer. 

10. Remember that if you have a physical shop, a lot of this advice also applies.

In fact, all of this advice applies! Again, just take note to not end up wrestling angry non-vegans in the streets. If you have one in your shop who is being aggressive or shouty, you’ll tend to find that they wear themselves out eventually, especially if you’re just being kind and non-combative in return. If you have premises where your tribe congregate, like a café or restaurant, this bit acts like the comments section – if it’s incredibly offensive or dangerous then ‘delete’ (i.e. call the police), if it’s anything else just ignore and they just happily make themselves look like an angry idiot, and often your tribe will step in to say the things you can’t possibly say (being a professional business owner and all that). Turn this into a ‘proud tribe’ moment instead of something negative.

 

Lisa Fox says:

The vast majority of us have not been vegan or plant-based for our entire lives. Whatever our reasons for taking this journey, we haven’t always been aware of those reasons, so we once were these people also. OK, so we weren’t sweary keyboard warriors (probably) who spent our time trolling for kicks, but we were still utterly uneducated about all the things we now know, and those we’re still learning about. We became open to this knowledge often through the kindness and time others gave us (even if it was digitally through documentaries and so on, that’s still vegans giving their time to educate).

So, let’s be as kind and as understanding as we can. Let’s give out knowledge where we can. Let’s not berate – let’s educate! Little by little we can all make a difference together. This is what our tribe does, and this is how we make the world a better place.

Have you dealt with this well or even really badly?!  Share your stories in the comments:

 

Please add your own comment:

9 comments on “How to deal with non-vegans commenting on your business’s social media

  1. I’ve had this with Facebook ads. I don’t understand how people can comment on people’s posts with such negative stuff against vegans. It’s not like we’d go onto their page and start calling them names.

    1. It’s true, but what we have to remember is that with Facebook ads we are invading someone’s timeline without them asking us to. Facebook’s targeting, especially of people it thinks are vegan, is patchy. So even if you set up an advert aimed at who Facebook believes are ‘interested in veganism’ you’re still going to have your advert shown to a lot of non-vegans. And as Lisa says in the article, we must remember that the majority of people don’t understand why people turn vegan – they haven’t yet connected with how what they eat actually gets to their plate. That’s why it’s important to be compassionate and educational as much as we can. Even if that means screaming into a pillow every now and again!

  2. I had a “friend” who would always reply something negative every time I shared something vegan and I ended up losing it with her and blocking her on Facebook. She sent me a message later saying she was just having a joke so I sent her some links about why I didn’t think it was a joke and she replied the next day apologising and saying she didn’t realise that baby cows were killed to make milk and she was going to think twice about buying milk. So yes, you can talk sense to people. Still hard not to get upset though.

  3. I had someone turn up at our shop angry that we were vegan about three years ago, I offered him a cup of tea for free and asked if he wanted to sit down and have a proper conversation about why we were (I’ve done outreach, Cube etc). He stayed for about 15 minutes, I don’t think I converted him but his wife who came in after we started talking was actually quite engaged with what we were saying and ended up buying some of our Oreo cheese cake. I like to think she might have gone off and read more or watched the videos I mentioned and maybe converted him later down the line!

    1. That’s great Gemma. A lot of people who run vegan businesses do it as a form of outreach. Maybe you should make some educational content, or videos etc about why your business is vegan – in a very friendly and educational way – and use that on your social media.

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