Clients often ask me “How do I deal with negative comments across social media?” I have even blogged about blog censorship. I have begun to realize though that negative comments are becoming all too common. Like children fighting one another, it is spiraling out of control and is often something that doesn’t get remedied easily. This post will share some ideas for managing such comments for your social media strategy and peace of mind.
Certainly my personal experiences lately may be coloring what I see happening, but as I have commented on posts that I have read, or social media sharing of posts, I have seen more trolling of some to make negative comments. By negative comments, I am specifically discussing those that name call the author or picking fights amongst others commenting. I’m all for sharing opinions and viewpoints, after all it’s only by considering them that we can fully come to realize what we believe in, however the trolling is getting out of hand.
It starts with having a social media plan of attack – Create a social media policy for your company. Your social media policy is more about the role that transparency has within the space. Decide ahead of time what language is acceptable and what language is not. The space, whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or within the blog and comments, should be a platform where your customers feel comfortable sharing, connecting, and receiving help. Your policy will help you have some control should those commenting get out of hand.
Need help creating your social media policy? Here are some excellent guidelines and examples of various social media guides.
Some comments, even if they are negative, should be left in the space and dealt with by directly addressing the individual that has shared. Before I started with PWB, one of the things I did was to create content for AnnArbor.com. As a blogger we would sometimes get attacked by “anonymous” persons online. It was policy to not allow these personal attacks. Instead the content was removed and the author contacted by email with a comment like, “We welcome your comments however please keep them to respectful constructive criticism.” Certainly this can not always be done with anonymous posts, however there still may be the opportunity to respond to the post with similar content that encourages the poster to contact your company direct to discuss a resolution. Negative comments may provide the opportunity for your company to highlight how they deal with unhappy customers.
Jen Eyer, of MLive Media Group, (my former editor at A2.com) has some excellent thoughts for cultivating constructive communities in a world of anonymity in this LA2M video.
Managing your social media presence should not be painful, however there are often undesirable consequences for participating in the larger community of the world wide web. How you manage negative comments, highlights to your customers how your company deals with uncomfortable situations. Managing with grace and respect should always be top of mind. Begin by covering your company with a policy to back up your what is said and done. The time it takes to create your policy will be time well spent in the long run.