In this guest article, Faaizah Ali charts the rise of the other ‘Red Ed’, and asks: Can the famed Twitter user teach us a thing or two about tackling social media trolls?

With a six times certified platinum debut album, which has sold over one million copies since its release in 2011, Ed Sheeran has continued to rise to stardom at startling speed.

In 2012, he was voted the Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards, was invited to perform at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and performed the Summer Olympics closing ceremony. In 2013, his debut single A-Team won Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, and by 2014 he became the biggest selling artist in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

However, even with all his success and millions of devoted fans across the world, he still has to face his fair share of negativity on social media – proving even the best of us can’t escape those pesky Twitter trolls.

There is an art to social media reputation management, and there’s a lot we can learn from the 23-year-old singing sensation. Below is Ed Sheeran’s Guide to Social Media Reputation Management.

1. Play Nice

In 2012, highly influential journalist, Caitlin Moran, tweeted the following: “If my kids ever tell me they like Ed Sheeran, I’ll put them in a sack and throw them in a canal.”

Sheeran, who was on the brink of fame and success at the time, decided to send a surprisingly friendly response. This led to Moran turning her negativity into an apology and a plea to buy the singer a drink.

Tip: Of course it’s always tempting to respond to negativity on social media with an equally, if not more, offensive response. But a big tip we’ve learnt from Sheeran’s approach to social media reputation management is that being nice undoubtedly goes a long way. Taking this approach with your responses can turn once-haters into new fans and advocates of your brand.

Tweet from Caitlin Moran

2. Don’t Hide. Respond!

Ed Sheeran is never one to shy away from negative comments online. In fact, he’s gained a bit of a reputation for his social media comebacks and timely responses to hate. One of Ed’s Twitter rivals is rapper and DJ, Example, who has made a few friendly jabs at the singer online. Whenever this has happened, Ed has been quick to deliver a humorous response in return that racks up the retweets and favourites.

Tip: Quite often, the people who choose to take their negativity to social channels are those who feel that they are being ignored. If somebody posts a complaint about your brand or business, failing to respond will only cause more damage. In order to carry out effective social media reputation management, you need to reply and engage with everyone who gets in touch.

Twitter exchange between Ed Sheeran and DJ Example

3. Don’t Take it to Heart

There have been countless occasions where Sheeran has been sent negative comments online. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory of being a famed musician and being present in the world of social media. One key learning from Ed Sheeran’s social media style is that he never seems to take any of these comments to heart. And it’s always clear in the way he chooses to respond.

Tip: Social media will open up a lot of doors for your business. Whether it’s people telling you how much they love your brand, product or service or quite the opposite of people telling you how much they hate you. It’s a brutal world out there. And it’s important to take it on the chin and always keep a level head.

Twitter exchange between Indy Music and Ed Sheeran

4. Have Fun and Stay Witty

A common theme among Sheeran’s social media updates is that they are always funny and true to his character. This is also reflected in his social media updates and how he chooses to respond to negative comments. His natural ability to make people laugh with his updates is probably the reason he has 13.5 million followers on Twitter. Impressive, right?

Tip: Social media is all about creating a voice for your brand and having fun. Being consistent with your tone of voice even when responding to negativity will give your online following a reason to stick around. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your responses, but know where to draw the line, before it’s simply just offensive.

Tweet from Sam Smith

Tweet from Ed Sheeran to Sam Smith

Social media is a brilliant tool for businesses, brands and individuals. It can allow you to reach out to new people every day, grow your online presence and help retain your existing customers. But just like the offline world, social media creates a new platform for negative feedback and comments. By following the tips above, you can carry out social media reputation management to convert negative customers into positive, long-term supporters of your brand.

If you’ve seen some great examples of social media reputation management, let us know in the comments section. Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to share this blog if you enjoyed it!

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