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Many organizations take online criticism poorly and end up making a mountain out of a molehill by overreacting.
DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!
When someone leaves a nasty comment or a sincere complaint on your company's Facebook page, how should you respond? When YouTube commenters start serving up snarky criticism on your latest video, what do you do? This post will give you a few guidelines for dealing with comments on social media.
1. Establish standards for social media comments.
We need to establish basic definitions for the following scenarios (you may come up with more, but these will get us started):
- Is it a troll?
- Is it a sincere complaint?
- Is the comment offensive?
- Is the comment critical of our brand?
Define what each of these scenarios are for your brand. A troll is a person who leaves a comment just to stir up controversy or get attention. Not all brands will consider curse words as "offensive", but some will.
Before you decide how to respond to these scenarios, lay out your company's definitions and guidelines for what counts as a sincere complaint, what is deemed offensive, examples of troll behavior and so forth.
2. Write basic scripts for your employees to use as responses.
Once you've established scenarios and standards, work with your marketing or social media team to have standard responses. You don't have to copy/paste your responses every time; that looks too robotic. However, a baseline response to your fans and followers will help your employees know how to reply properly and hopefully diffuse the situation.
You can maintain brand consistency and messaging across channels while tailoring your response for each. For example, your response on Twitter will necessarily be shorter than on Facebook.
3. Listen to your fans and followers.
Listen and respond as if each follower has the potential to be converted into a raving fan. Your response could take a bad situation to a very positive customer service experience.
Of course, listening to your customers' feedback, in general, is a good idea. If you're noticing a trend in the complaints or criticism, it's time to pay attention. You might even need to write a press release responding to negative publicity or a social media crisis. This can be posted on your website and shared on social media as part of your response strategy. Let your customers and fans know that you hear them and that you are taking their concerns seriously.
4. Should I delete?
Here's the bottom line about deleting comments: Do not delete a comment just because it’s negative.
In general, deleting should be reserved for offensive comments. You can hide a comment if you’re not sure about deleting it. Hiding a comment only makes it visible to the person who posted it and their friends.
Specific Complaint or General Criticism
You may not appreciate a customer complaining in a public forum. “Why didn’t they call our support line or email us directly?” This is an understandable response. However, don’t take it personally when a client or customer offers feedback on Twitter or Facebook. They are most likely frustrated or unsure how to take the next step.
An open response is best practice. Here are some responses:
- “Mary, we’re sorry you had a bad experience with our product. A customer service agent will be reaching out to you about this very soon.”
- “John, I’m sorry you weren’t happy with our service. Can you message me your phone number so we can follow up with you directly?”
Follow up with an empathetic response and a promise to make things better. This not only helps to repair the relationship with your customer, but it also shows a great service attitude to your wider audience. Make sure to personalize your responses so your customers are not getting robotic auto responses.
If the comment is clearly from a troll (a person who just wants to get attention), you might hide the comment or simply not respond. Sometimes it’s best not to feed the trolls.
Your communication policy should indicate what is deemed offensive and worthy of being deleted from your channel. Some obvious examples are things like foul language and hate speech. Depending on your industry, you may be more or less open to “gray area” comments like curse words or rude humor. This should all be in line with your brand.
If you do need to delete comments, it’s a good idea to clearly say “It’s not in our policy to delete comments, but we had to delete the comment due to its offensive nature.” Save a screenshot of the comment before you delete it; you may need it for end-of-year reports or to use in training.
Does your company have a specific set of guidelines for dealing with comments on social media? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.
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