How to Deal with Negative Social Media Comments
Social media provides a wealth of publicity opportunities for any organization. However, anytime you present yourself on a public forum, there is a chance you will receive negative comments, whether from a disappointed client or someone simply having a bad day. This can seem alarming at first—will potential clients see the comment and be turned off? Will the negativity chase away your followers? Fret not. With the right plan of action, even the most harrowing social media confrontation can be dealt with in a way that reflects well upon your organization. Here are some tips for damage control:
1) Stay Calm
The Internet can induce a feeling of invulnerability, leading to inflammatory comments. It takes a bit of willpower not to return fire, but waiting a bit to calm down will ultimately pay off. Level heads make better decisions.
2) Identify the Problem
Why is the commenter upset? Were they dissatisfied with a product? Did one of your articles strike a nerve? Identifying the reason for the negative comment is essential to planning your next step.
3) Decide to Respond or Delete
It can be tempting to remove every negative comment, but as ASPCAPro points out, deleting all of your negative input can appear disingenuous. So, how do you decide which ones to delete?
Consider whether or not the post provides an opportunity for education or correction. For example, if a client posts on your Facebook complaining about a faulty product, responding and informing him that he will be reimbursed will provide evidence of good customer service to your followers. On the other hand, if someone chimes in with “[your website] sucks”, there’s not much you can gain by responding.
4) Use Two Sets of Eyes
If you’ve determined it’s best to respond, draft a response and have a coworker or friend look it over, if possible. Sometimes it’s hard to assess the tone of our own writing, so having someone check your work helps ensure that you’re sending the right message.
5) Respond as Promptly as Possible
While it’s always possible to soften the impact of a negative response, moving swiftly is important. You want to minimize the time that the negative comment is left on the platform unanswered.
6) Contact the Commenter Directly
If your response elicits another comment, see if there is a way to contact the person directly. Of course, this is most appropriate in the case of a business-related complaint. If the commenter simply wants to argue, offer a polite yet firm response that clears up any misconceptions, yet makes it clear that you won’t be engaging in a debate.
As our friends at ASPCAPro mention, don’t take negative comments to heart—and don’t be too nervous. Look at negative comments as a way to demonstrate your decorum, and the right course of action will fall into place.