Over the years, I have often joked with friends that my epitaph will read “Sarah Jayne: I knew her from the boards.” I am one of the original board whores. My first steps in the industry being made with the help of the community of the now-defunct Porncity BBS and since then there has barely been an industry board which hasn’t had me as an active member at one time or another.
Which has meant that much of my personal and professional development over a decade or more has taken place in the public eye. Something I am reminded of whenever I go to an industry event and I am approached by somebody who has seen me post on the boards. Often I haven’t seen these people post myself but they can recant to me details of some of the most personally painful moments of my life or some of my professional victories. From that I have taken away the lesson that everything you do or say in these public forums is being watched and can impact the marketing of yourself and the company for which you work.
Don’t be baited into bending your own standards of professionalism in an attempt to satisfy trolls.
Obviously, the aim of any marketing strategy is to obtain new customers whether they be end purchasers or affiliates. So much time, money and effort can be put into fulfilling that goal that it can be forgotten that a whole different battle begins once you have gotten that person through the door. Aftercare in private and in public can determine the tone of the word of mouth exposure your company gets. Customer service and public relations are parts of marketing that shouldn’t be overlooked and in the business to business world of our industry that includes dealing with the boards.
The wild west days of the online industry created a vigilante culture of sorts that spilled out onto the boards. Complaints, both valid and baseless, are dealt with loudly and in public often as the first approach even before any private contact has been attempted. When that happens the initial human response can be to lash back and protect you and your companies hard work. In doing so, more than a few people have allowed their professionalism to be dented and as a result damaged all of their marketing efforts moving forward.
Above everything else, the key to responding to any negative publicity is to always be answering truthfully. Nothing will assassinate your professional image more quickly than being caught in a lie. Accidents happen and people and companies make mistakes. If that is the case then find a way to hold your hands up and take it on the chin. Most people will appreciate the honesty and allow you the space to correct any unintentional wrongs.
More of a challenge are those times when false claims hit the boards. Any company big enough to get attention by the webmaster population will eventually have it happen to them in one form or another. Natural urges to rush in an set the record straight are understandable but should be controlled. Fight the temptation to make these all-hands-on-deck situations. It is much more effective to have one clear voice speaking for the company. Otherwise valuable staff members may not have the sort of personality that can take the heat without snapping.
Don’t be baited into bending your own standards of professionalism in an attempt to satisfy trolls. Nothing excites trolls more than the smell of fear and if they get a wiff they will start to circle and try to break you down until it can feel impossible to not snap back in a rude manner. They love to try to get you to give out details of other affiliates or customers in public, for example. Never be taken to that level. It may chase a troll away for a bit but having slipped in your professionalism could follow you and your company around for years.
Never ceasing to give them solid, truthful and professional answers will result in them getting bored and eventually move onto more exciting drama. All the while, you have maintained your standards and protected your marketing efforts.
DatingGold.com’s Sarah Jayne Anderson is a veteran marketing professional in the online adult industry, stretching back to 1998. Her Twitter is @smutmerchant.