Coping with Negative Social Media Comments

Erik Bernstein crisis management, Crisis Prevention, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, online crisis management, online reputation management, PR, public relations, reputation management, social media 1 Comment

Master this aspect of social media crisis management

It’s becoming increasingly common for frustrated or upset stakeholders to, instead of picking up a phone, take their complaints straight to social media. Often, these posts are made in the heat of the moment, and can be quite vicious.

Sometimes it’s warranted, and sometimes it isn’t, but you have to do something…or do you?

In a post on the LeadersWest blog, Allison Murphy answered this very question:

People post negative comments for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they have legitimate concerns and other times they just need to blow off steam, and your page was the place for them to go. When someone posts a negative comment that isn’t your fault you need to consider if it’s a battle worth fighting for and whether or not it’s necessary to respond. Some people may disagree with this technique but sometimes there isn’t anything productive the company can say. The last thing you want is to engage in a back-and-forth discussion with a customer who is angry and irrational. The person may not want a resolution, so it may be more prudent to stay quiet.

Yes, it really is OK to ignore those baseless, one-off rants or trolls simply looking to get a rise, provided others don’t take up the cause and amplify their comments. Of course, we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that every negative comment was unmerited. One helpful and proven strategy is to reach out to the upset party publicly, but ask them to take the discussion to a private channel like email, or direct message. That way, you are visibly making an effort to do the right thing while preventing other visitors from being subjected to, or influenced by, the negative poster.

To delete, or not to delete?

As far as outright deleting comments goes, we agree, along with most social media experts, that the only time you should ever delete a post is if it is a gross breach of your page TOS (typically offensive language/images or nasty personal comments), which should be posted and clearly defined. That way, you have a leg to stand on if others ask, “why was this deleted?”

A learning process

What makes this aspect of social media crisis management so difficult is that there are very few “unbreakable” rules. It takes a lot of experience, training and a solid gut instinct to manage online communities well. If you’re just getting started, find a mentor, hire a trainer, or go out and study others in your niche to see how they handle different types of situations. Through experience, and by knowing your own stakeholders inside and out, you will learn the right moves to make.

The BCM Blogging Team

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