There are generally two kinds of businesses, the ones who are afraid of haters and the ones who aren’t. A hater is pretty easy to spot—someone who is disgruntled enough to actively talk about how much they hate you and your business. They often find their way onto social media, thanks to the low barrier of entry and promise that any invisible comment can find its way onto the highly visible first page of Google results.
Though it may not seem like it, haters are a good thing. Here’s why:
1. Haters expose vulnerability. No business is perfect and haters sometimes have valid points. It requires an open mind to focus on the heart of a complaint and ignore the emotionally charged aspects. Doing so will hone in on the things you really need to fix and make your business stronger.
2. Haters can be converted. There are many types of haters who may cross your path. The most frequent type isn’t the one who will passionately hate your business forever, but rather someone who has had a negative experience of some kind. If you can find a way to fix that experience and make it right, that same person can be transformed into your biggest advocate.
3. Haters bring attention. Although I don’t believe “any publicity is good publicity,” the fact is that when you have people actively talking about how bad or pathetic your business is, it can add visibility. If you can find the right ways to counter the negativity, that attention can actually become a good thing.
4. Haters publicize frequently asked questions. If you have a FAQ page on your website, you will realize the power that answering frequently asked questions can have for giving potential customers an idea not just of what you do … but also what you don’t do.
5. Haters validate social media efforts. If you have been actively using social media, the goodwill that you may have built up with your fans and friends comes in handy when haters appear. The people you have invested time in building relationships with will often stick up for your brand and fight on your side.
Rohit Bhargava is the award-winning author of “Personality Not Included,” a founding member of the Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence team, and Adjunct Professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University. He also blogs at Influential Marketing Blog, where a version of this article originally ran.