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The near-universal adoption of smartphones and social media has fundamentally altered the science of complaints. Critics ("haters") can now express their displeasure faster and more publicly than ever.

But haters are not your problem... Ignoring them is.

My research with Edison found two main hater types: "onstage" haters, who publicly launch complaints via social media and online review sites; and "offstage" haters, who conduct their complaints via more private channels, such as email and phone.

There are no meaningful differences in educational level or annual income between hater types. There are also no gender differences of note between onstage and offstage haters.

However, across all channels combined, men complain more often: 22% of men have complained to a business seven times or more in the past year, compared with 16% of women, our research found.

Age Has a Significant Impact on How and Where People Complain

More than 90% of American complainers in nearly every age category have complained offstage via phone or email.

Among onstage haters, young people are far more likely to have complained via social media, discussion boards, forums, and online review sites than have older consumers. More than 80% of 25-34-year-olds have complained publicly, compared with 58% of survey respondents age 65 or older.

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Jay Baer is president and founder at Convince and Convert, a marketing services firm. Jay is the author of the newly published Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, as well as the best-selling Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype.

LinkedIn: Jay Baer

Twitter: @JayBaer