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Tips for Handling Negative Comments and Trolls on Social Media

Some of us are more sensitive than others. Make a negative comment and some people will break into tears. Some will take it on board and modify their behavior. Others will turn into an attack dog and bite right back.Tips for Handling Negative Comments and Trolls on Social Media image Tips for Handling Negative Comments and Trolls on Social Media

If you are a business then that approach is maybe not optimal if your brand is the target of the negative comment.

In the past, customers could only complain in a fairly private manner, either via phone call, within the storefront, or by letters.

Today, many businesses have second thoughts about joining the social media world because they are afraid of the potential for negative comments. Instead of missing out on one of the best marketing tools available, businesses can be prepared to handle the negativity that is likely to come their way.

The fact is, the negativity is likely already happening, but without a presence on social media sites, these companies have no way to combat it.

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Taking a proactive presence on social media will allow you to respond and have a better chance of controlling your brand image online.

4 Social Media Monitoring and Management Tips

Before you engage in any responses to complaints, consider the following general policies as a guidelines to how you monitor and manage your handling of negative comments and complaints.

  1. Track all complaints (this can be done internally or externally by a “community manager”)
  2. Respond quickly in public
  3. Stay positive publicly
  4. Deal with details privately

This will assist you in stopping minor issues becoming a major public relations disaster.

Valid Complaints and Trolls

Negative comments come in two main types: Valid complaints and Trolls. Real complaints are problems that customers are having with your products or services that you need to address.

Valid Complaints

When a valid customer complaint shows up on one of your social media sites, take action quickly.

  1. First, document the comment in case it ends up being deleted so that you can keep track of the conversation.
  2. Take some time to think through a response. Don’t take the comment personally. The customer has had a frustrating experience with your product and is seeking you out, giving you a second chance.
  3. Handle the issue with tact and respect

If you take this assertive and positive approach you will most likely gain your customer’s trust and continued loyalty and they will become a a raving fan.

Trolls

Trolls are a type of public spam that is usually illicit and unrelated to your business. Their language is strong and emotive and it is designed to get you to react. If you respond they win.

They are hunting for attention and gain their energy by eliciting a response on a public forum that they don’t deserve. Usually they don’t have a large social network audience of their own but are relying on your social networks to leverage and amplify the message.

So, don’t give them oxygen , don’t let them use your social media channels to use as a pulpit to scream from and delete them immediately.

Responding

When you respond, use a respectful and even playful tone to keep the mood light and friendly. Admit that you messed up. Use your customer service policy here: the customer is always right (unless it is a completely unfounded complaint). Publicly send an apology on the social media site because you are dealing with more than just that one customer. Privately contact the customer who complained and fix the specific problem by giving a discount or some benefit that fits the problem.

Next, share how your business plans to fix the problem in the future. Explain with the appropriate amount of detail what went wrong and what you have done to fix the problem for all of your customers. The more transparent you are here, the more trust you will gain from your customers.

Although every situation will be different, if you learn how to respond appropriately and effectively to negative comments on social media sites, your customers will be happy to support you even more.

What About You?

Have do you handle negative comments or complaints? Have you had a troll turn up on your social networks?

How have you handled it.

I look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below.

Guest Author: Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing and web related topics. She writes for PrintPlace.com and other companies.

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Comments on this Article: 3

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  1. Richard Ng says:

    Hi Tara,

    Nice management tips. Will share it in my SM related blog for my audience. ;-)

    Personally haven’t got the chance in dealing with negative complaints or trolls (yet) but if I have come across any in the future, my approach will be remain positive and neutral. Also, one thing I learn is never ever delete any negative comments in the social media space as it might snowballing into another even more negative comments/complaints.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for sharing, Richard! :)

      Yes, being positive, neutral, and not deleting helps a lot. However, keep in mind that no one would fault you for deleting anything that might offend other followers, such as derogatory language or inappropriate topics.

  2. Idacl says:

    Very Informative! Just read a white paper about social media syndication, This is different than bombarding busy executives with emails that can become annoying and may not be relevant to their business needs http://bit.ly/OLvPJx

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