Social Media Trolls – How To Handle The Hate

I’ve noticed a lot of discussions online lately about the increasing amount of trolling on veterinary social media pages. It’s heartbreaking to see, especially when 99% of the criticism is unfounded and undeserved. Even when there are legitimate grounds for a complaint, the tone and delivery is nothing short of hostile and they often include personal attacks on veterinary personnel.

No wonder our suicide rates are several times higher than in other industries.

Our vets and nurses get kicked and bitten and scratched – and that’s just from the patients. They deal with verbal abuse from clients in practice, only to go home and read more poison vitriol from keyboard warriors. 

The biggest misconceptions seem to be centred around value for money, with little understanding of the costs of service delivery. For example:

I don’t even need to tell you how misguided this opinion is. Seemingly we are crooks and only in it for the money (I haven’t seen too many vets driving around in Lamborghinis, have you?) 

And with the additional stress of operating in a pandemic, the hate is spreading. There are now groups being created on Facebook, dedicated to vet bashing.  

Here are a few recent comments I found from our colleagues:

So what do we do about it?

We can’t stop all of the hate but there are a few things we can do to minimise the damage.

  1. Print itemised invoices and estimates and ask the client if they have any questions before they leave.
  1. If you read anything like this please do one of two things; either ignore it completely or counter the bitterness with a positive story about your relationship with your vet, even if they are nothing to do with the practice being hounded.
  1. Monitor your social media pages stringently. Respond within 24hrs and offer to take the discussion offline wherever possible. Clients will often remove or edit their comment after you’ve resolved their complaint and they’ve cooled down.
  1. Bad reviews are difficult to remove, but don’t be afraid to delete comments and ban followers who abuse and heckle your practice. Your Facebook page is your space and you have the right to maintain a welcoming and happy space for your followers. 
  1. Practice self-care. Distance yourself from personal attacks and lean on each other. None of this is worth losing your health and well-being over. 
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