If you’re participating in social media, negative comments are a part of the game. While this feels uncomfortable and unnatural, the sooner you can get a handle on them, the better your online experience will be. At LŪM Studio, we have a three-part strategy to getting this done: reframing, minimizing and navigating. These efforts include many tools and strategies, but we’ve outlined some of the most effective and easy to implement below.
We believe in utilizing community feedback, even negative comments, as an opportunity to listen, engage and improve. Through them, you are getting free, raw and honest feedback (albeit some of it is inaccurate and unworthy of response, but we’ll get into that later). If you address comments and run your page from this mindset, you will handle things calmly, patiently and thoughtfully.
Our goal in minimizing is to reduce the number of negative comments as much as possible. In order to do that, there’s a few tools that you need to prepare and implement.
Having clear, concise and communicated (post loud and proud for all to see) page policies makes it clear to your audience where you stand on things like foul language, defamatory comments, spam and sales pitches. While you want your pages to be a place your audience can speak and act freely, you also want them to be respectful and accurate as well as keep the content relevant and useful to your community. Posted policies can help direct and guide proper engagement. Additionally, it demonstrates credibility if you have to delete a comment or remove a user. Clear policies yield clear action/response.
- Canned Responses
Preparing and responding quickly and directly will let negative commenters know you monitor and manage your page(s) continuously. Developing canned responses enables you to act fast and without the emotional roller coaster that often parallels negative comments. Additionally, it reduces mob mentality, when users feel empowered by banning together to attack a page, business, philosophy or action, by reducing the time you let an issue or comment fester.
- Engage Your Advocates
Having strong and vocal advocates will help set the tone for your pages. Trolls and naysayers will realize they don’t fit in and they’re the minority. Additionally, having engaged advocates that are ready to defend and uphold your brand and business adds credibility because information isn’t coming from the business itself, but rather users of your product or service that can vouch for your effectiveness.
As we mentioned above, as much as you try to minimize these comments, they’re likely still going to happen occasionally. Utilizing the below tactics will help you spend energy, resources and efforts in the most effective ways.
- Determine the Type of Comment
The first and most important step in navigating negative comments is determining if the comments are pointless and harmless or important and damaging. Pointless and harmless comments often involve ranting, name calling and irrational thinking. Important and damaging comments are those that identify a weakness in your brand or business and effect how other users view or engage with your brand moving forward. Once you've determined the type, you can choose how to move forward.
- Delete or Hide Only When…
In general, we don’t recommend deleting/hiding comments. However, when comments are inappropriate and/or against page policies, then remove. Additionally, we often recommend posting a reminder with the link to the policies or post policies themselves to the content string. If users notice you’re removing comments, it will look like you’re hiding or manipulating something. So, be transparent and up front about why you’re removing a post.
- Address the Comment; Direct Offline
When we determine it’s important to address a negative comment, we typically recommend responding publicly and then directing further conversation offline. This allows your community to see you are listening, responding and trying to resolve the issue or address the comment. But it doesn’t leave the nitty gritty out in the open for everyone to see. The issue is handled privately, allowing everyone to move on without troll intrusion.
- Correct Inaccurate, Harmful Information
It is seriously impressive how much some people think they know. Even more, when they shout from the social media roof tops and, well, they’re wrong. In some cases, this can be harmful to your business. For example, if you’re an all-natural baby product business built around the use of organic materials and a social media user swears you use harmful chemicals, you need to address this quickly, clearly, and unequivocally with proof, evidence or fact. Never let inaccurate information live on your page unaddressed or uncorrected. (Reminder: your opinion of your product or service is not fact. #4 refers to times when you can offer or support your rebuttal with hard proof).
Reframing your mindset around negative comments on social media can make posting and engaging with your community way more fun and valuable. And with minimizing and navigating, you’ll see the difference in your pages and your efforts will feel worthwhile.