Every company, brand, and individual looking to make their mark on social media and build a following starts out with the same optimism. It’s only natural to think positively when embarking on a new project. After all, that positive thinking and attitude is what appeals to your growing community.
When your enthusiasm for the marketing campaign is genuine, it will be met with genuine enthusiasm in return. As your community expands and you make more and more positive connections in the social media circles, the feedback loop can be heady…BLOG: How to Deal with Negative Comments in Your #SocialMedia Campaign | #JSBTalksDigital Click To Tweet
The One Negative Comment
For many, the first negative comment to mar your perfect score hits like an arrow to the chest. Your initial response may be dismay, a sense of betrayal, or even anger that someone would come in to rain on your ever-growing parade. For something that comes from a stranger over the internet, your first negative social media comment can be a surprisingly emotional experience and it’s not uncommon to feel like fighting the commenter or trying to get the comment deleted.
Take a deep breath and realize that negative comments happen to everyone. It is impossible to go through a social media campaign without someone saying something unpleasant. Yes, they said something you don’t want to hear and might not agree with and yes, everyone can see it. But every community on the internet is no stranger to negative comments and most normal people who don’t run an actual marketing campaign have to deal with a certain amount of trash talk. This means that while you may care about the negative comment, it won’t matter to the vast majority of your community unless you handle the situation badly.
Therefore, the key is to approach the situation with a calm, logic, and empathy as this is the best way to determine and follow the right course through the situation.
What is the Purpose of the Comment?
The very first step is determining why the comment was made. There are a lot of reasons why someone might say something negative on your social media campaign, to you directly, or about the brand you’re building and often the reason is one you might respect if you understood. There are those who had a rare bad customer experience and want to share it with the world, others who are indirectly seeking customer support, and more than a few out there just looking to see if they can spark an negative reaction by being mean.
Look at the comment carefully to determine the desires of the writer. Their tone of voice, the message they have to send, and if they have followed up with more comments should all give you an insight into their motivations, not just the message itself on the surface. Once you understand what the commenter wants from making their comment, you may be able to provide it and smooth over this strife as if it never happened.
Don’t Get Trolled
Take a good long look at the comment and ask yourself if the writer was looking to get your goat. If the purpose of the comment seems to be intended to upset you rather than seeking something constructive, there is a very high chance that who you are dealing with is a troll.
Trolling is the art of messing with people on the internet, though people who identify as trolls often also enjoy messing with others in-person as well. Essentially, the goal is to create a greater emotion than is appropriate to the situation in hopes that the target will embarrass themselves and be goaded into overreacting. Therefore, your best approach for dealing with trolls is to remain perfectly calm.
In fact, because trolls often make up details to complain about or insult you with, you can often counter their efforts by conversationally asking them to tightly clarify their complaint. This works much in the same way as you might bluff out a scam artist claiming to be Windows tech support. If the person continues to send negative messages that begin to look like harassment, you’re free to ignore them and persistence on their part would open the door for you to report and ban them.
Take Control of the Conversation
Whether or not the person who has made the negative comment is trolling, the last thing you want is a discussion on the issue started somewhere you’re not aware of and have no influence over. Ideally, you will be able to take over the discussion of the complaint immediately. Don’t let anyone “speak with your voice” on sensitive issues or issues of marketing campaigns. If it’s possible, your goal should be to become the primary source of information both about the initial complaint itself, the root of the complaint and how you’re going to solve it.
If the issue is big enough or if you’re really not sure what kind of solution to put into place, consider opening the discussion to your loyal social media base through survey questions and online debates. When your social media page, profile, and community are the go-to sources for the story any rumours (and most negative comment’s don’t even warrant a rumour), you will have effectively taken control of the situation and the public narrative about what happened and why.Dealing with negative comments? The key is to keep your cool and play the diplomat! | #JSBTalksDigital Click To Tweet
Take Responsibility for Problems
The next step is to decide if it’s time to apologize. If you examined the content and determined that it is not only not trolling but seems to be a legitimate complaint, customer service request, or report of a bad experience, this means that the mistake really was on you or your brand. While you may have preferred that the comment writer kept their negative opinions inside your customer service network and out of the public eye, they’re also technically doing you a favor by pointing out a weakness in your company, brand, and marketing infrastructure.
When the commenter is correct in their complaint, it’s important that you immediately acknowledge that they have a point and to apologize on behalf of the brand if they had a less than enjoyable experience. This shows that you’re listening and that your community can trust you not to simply shove negative comments under the rug.
Be On Their Side if Possible
Getting a negative comment and resolving to deal with it in the correct way has one inherent weakness, it puts you on opposite sides of the issue from the comment writer. Instead, the ideal situation is that you can turn this one unhappy customer into a loyal online community member simply by handling this situation correctly as their partner against bad customer experiences.
Do everything you can to actively take the side of your negative complainer. Agree with their assessment of the situation and carefully word all your phrasing to suggest that whatever the problem is, you have their back in finding a solution and preventing others from going through the same issues.
If There’s a Story, Explain It
This is especially true for startups but can also apply to established businesses as well. If the person who left the negative comment ran into an issue that was caused by some zany antics that happened in the office or if their issue is really with your backed-up supplier delaying shipments and restock, this is your opportunity to share your side of the story. In reality, many of your social media community members will be just as interested in a unique story about why your service fell through one time in a million.
Take Long Discussions into a Private Channel
Of course, as much as your community may briefly take note and enjoy a few lively discussion topics, there will always be issues complex enough or extended enough that social media posts stop being the most practical ways to continue communication. If the issue is turning into a long discussion or an even longer troubleshooting session, suggest that you take the conversation somewhere more private. This will give you plenty of time to work with or around the negative commenter without junking up your social media page with an incredibly long conversation.
Find a Solution and Follow Through
Finally, you might be surprised at just how many companies have made claims about fixing named problems to get rid of negative commenters only to lose all credibility by not following through. If the issue has become a matter of public discussion, share your solution with the community along with a rough estimate of when it will be complete. If you and the commenter have been working closely together, let them know what the solution will be. Then, within the stated amount of time, you’ll need to implement the solution and share it with your community.
Dealing with a negative comment may feel like hot fire at first, but it’s fire everyone winds up playing with at some point. The key is to keep your cool and play the diplomat. Your social media campaign and community are still growing and your public will support you when you handle negative comments in a considerate and well-reasoned way.
For more tips on how to handle your social media community, contact us today!