My all-time favorite quote from Mark Twain is:
“Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”
When you have an audience, whether it's an email list, blog or social media “tribe,” that means YOU are the one with the storage room full of ink.
And when you're in this position, you don't have to fear ridicule and personal attacks.
On the contrary—often you can use criticism to your advantage.
My business partner John recently got a nasty reply from some miserable wretch on Twitter.
Rather than engaging with the guy directly, John made a lighthearted, public reply where he quoted the guy…
And our followers proceeded to tear the would-be provocateur to shreds like a pack of starved pirañas devouring a hapless cow.
Besides being oh-so-fun to watch, there are a couple of benefits to taking this approach:
– You get to maintain the high ground—you're not getting down and wrestling in the mud with your attackers.
– Onlookers see the devotion that your audience has for you, and some of them will decide to take a closer look to see what all the fuss is about. And thus your audience grows.
– The situation naturally sets up a powerful “with me or against me” dynamic. Without saying so you're drawing a line in the sand, and saying, “Here's what we stand for around here. Are you with us or with them?”
Not everyone will be with you—but you'll deepen your relationship with those that come to your defense.
This technique can backfire.
Recently I unleashed our audience against a ranty hatchet-job of an Amazon review—and it kinda exploded in my face.
That story tomorrow.