The internet is a strange thing. Or rather, the people using the internet can be strange at times. Well, the internet allows people to behave strangely. We’ve all experienced it. From anonymous trolls on Twitter and blog comments. To flame wars on Facebook.
I’ve been using the internet since 1998. That’s around 21 years. I cut my teeth on Usenet groups back in the days of 32kbs dial-up internet access.
I’d dial in via my phone line, download the headers and content from the Usenet groups I was a part of. I’d read the pertinent posts in Outlook Express. Compose any replies I may have had. Then dialled back up to post them. It was far from instantaneous. But it was fun. And I learned a lot about the perceived anonymity that the internet allows us and the discussions and arguments that can result.
Of course, we’ve moved on from the days of Usenet and into the world of social media, where a generation is drip fed content from businesses, brands and buddies on mobile apps like Instagram and Facebook. And while the technology has evolved, the ability to flame and fight still exists.
In response to that is the “Good Vibes Only” mindset where only positivity and “nice words” are allowed to exist. Virtual safe-spaces.
And I, of course, think this mindset is a load of BS. Particularly where brands are concerned.
In this article I want to look at how one brand in particular has a happy, cheery outset, but clearly eschews the “good vibes only” fallacy of “no negativity”.
The brand in question is Huel.
Huel is a “perfectly balanced and nutritionally complete meal that you can prepare in less than a minute”, according to its website. Full disclosure at this stage. I’m a customer. A loyal customer. I subscribe and get 3 packs of Huel every two months. I use the product daily.
I first heard about Huel over a year ago via a sponsored post on Instagram. I did some research after I saw the post, and decided to dive in and buy some. For me, someone who travels a lot and leads a busy life, it’s been a game changer, allowing me to measure my calorie intake and make sure I’m getting all of my macro and micro nutrients. It saves me taking the easy option of petrol station fast food while on the road.
Huel launched a series of Facebook promotions in January, and these popped up on my timeline.
Over the next couple of weeks I amused myself by reading the comments of the naysayers and Huel’s social media team’s responses to them.
Huel clearly doesn’t buy into the “good vibes only” mentality. It allows negativity on its posts. It engages with the posters of the negative comments. And it creates a realistic vibe of fun banter, which for me, is absolutely spot on. I’ve posted some examples below for you to check out.
For many of these comments, Huel could have shut down the discussion, deleting any perceived negative dynamic from its sponsored posts. But the brand doesn’t. It leaves them up and engages with them.
I reached out to Huel to get their take on how they deal with negativity on their Facebook posts.
Huel has impressed me with how it deals with negativity without blocking people. Tell me about your strategy.
“It wouldn't be completely true to say we never block people. We try our best to avoid having to, but if we consider someone to be harassing, or frequently using unpleasant language, we may use the ban button.
We try and have fun when we can with customers and aim to be no ruder than the person deserves.”
I love that mentality. It’s so refreshing in our “good vibes only” BS culture. Do you ever get any backlash?
“Sometimes we get called unprofessional, but I personally believe our more 'real' online persona is appreciated by most.”
And this, for me, hits the nail on the head and should inform how we all approach our online presence. Be real. Represent a true persona.
Let’s face it, “good vibes only” does not exist anywhere in real life. Bad vibes, negativity, fights, arguments and awkward, annoying people are all around us. We need to deal with them in real life, right? And we do so by being ourselves, sometimes being a bit cheeky, sometimes calling them out on their BS, don’t we?
Online discussions should mirror real life discussions
Brands should have a real persona!
So, why not take that model from the real world and transfer it to our online communities? Rather than throwing down the golden hammer to ban people who disagree with us, who argue with us, use a bit of sass and humour to turn the conversation around, like Huel does!
I’m a fan of the product and the online persona. I think more brands and businesses should cut the “good vibes only” nonsense and be more “real” in their online dealings.
But what do you think? How do you deal with negativity on your Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter? Do you shut down the discussion or use a bit of humour? Let me know in the comments below!