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Dealing with haters on social media

Time and time again we come across businesses who tell us “Yes it would be nice to be on Facebook but we don’t want to expose ourselves to the haters out there who will attack us because of <insert contentious product or service impact here>.                                                                  
In the most extreme cases this viewpoint could valid but more often than not it is the wrong reason not to engage.

Social media isn’t just about sales it’s also about building profile and just proving you’re a good bugger – organisationally speaking. If you do that the rest will follow. And yes, at times you’ll get the odd person “having a go” but these can be managed and like in “real life” if you surround yourselves with right people and a strong support base, there’s no reason why your brand, product/service offer can’t get the cut through it needs amongst all the commentary.

So, what do you do if someone decides to vent on your page?

Don’t overact

For some the immediate reflex for any negative comments on social media is to just delete posts or ban them without giving them much thought. By doing this all you’re doing is creating an overly sanitised environment when the whole point of “social media” is to encourage interaction and honest conversation and create a deeper human side to your organisation that individuals can relate to. Take the time to have a look at the comment and give your followers a chance to rebut the point. Trust in your support base and you’ll find the negative comment will be debated and others will come into “bat for the brand”. Many businesses such as Disney or PlayStation, are well versed in letting conversations run their course, and even post guidelines or house rules in their page descriptions to make it clear when they will hide “trolls” and when they will allow for debate, so each follower has a fair chance to express their opinions without creating an unsafe environment.

Be considered

If someone comments with constructive criticism directly aimed at your product or service without support by followers or incorrect facts or statements are gaining traction as part of a conversation, it’s probably appropriate to provide a comment.

The specific wording of the comment will depend on the context but usually cover:

- a clarification of a point or fact

- responding to a complaint 

- apologising for an error in a post made by the organisation that caused offence

It is crucial to prepare your response as quickly as possible to shift the conversation before it spirals. It is also important to acknowledge the comment, and understand the strong emotions that prompted it. In order to diffuse those emotions, begin your response with an empathetic statement validating the poster’s feelings. For example, “I hear your frustrations” or “We realise that the situation is challenging.” The response should be concise but comprehensive.

Be human and it’s ok to clamp down when necessary

Being offhand or dismissive is not the way to respond. In the information age, “We had no idea” no longer flies, and convoluted explanations only cause greater headaches. If you truly did not know the impact of your actions or words, focus on how you have learned otherwise. If something that caused offence has a different connotation or meaning to your organisation, explain that without being condescending. Be transparent about the situation and your organisation’s involvement to avoid any more backlash.

Ultimately, it will be your response, not the comments, that defines the interaction and on the whole people understand when honest mistakes are made so if you’re being fair, reasonable and clear in your response people will see and respect that.

Sometimes though, despite best intentions it can become blatantly clear that a person is just fixated in their view and are going out of their way to sabotage how your organisation is perceived. Should this occur and you’re receiving clearly abusive messages from a “troll”, go ahead – delete as you see fit.

Just remember Facebook is a great platform to demonstrate and promote your product, service and organisational values and when it comes to communicating with your audience, any haters can always be managed. To most effectively quell social media backlash, you can always get in touch at welcome@theclaritybusiness.co.nz and we can help create a clear crisis plan ahead of time and make sure your whole team is prepared to respond as quickly as possible.

Time and time again we come across businesses who tell us “Yes it would be nice to be on Facebook but we don’t want to expose ourselves to the haters out there who will attack us because of <insert contentious product or service impact here>"                  

In the most extreme cases this viewpoint can be perfectly valid but more often than not it is the wrong reason not to engage. 

Social media isn’t just about sales it’s also about building profile and just proving you’re a good bugger – organisationally speaking. If you do that the rest will follow. And yes, at times you’ll get the odd person “having a go” but these can be managed and like in “real life” if you surround yourselves with right people and a strong support base, there’s no reason why your brand, product/service offer can’t get the cut through it needs amongst all the commentary.

So, what do you do if someone decides to vent on your page?

Don’t overact

For some the immediate reflex for any negative comments on social media is to just delete posts or ban them without giving them much thought. By doing this all you’re doing is creating an overly sanitised environment when the whole point of “social media” is to encourage interaction and honest conversation and create a deeper human side to your organisation that individuals can relate to. Take the time to have a look at the comment and give your followers a chance to rebut the point. Trust in your support base and you’ll find the negative comment will be debated and others will come into “bat for the brand”. Many businesses such as Disney or PlayStation, are well versed in letting conversations run their course, and even post guidelines or house rules in their page descriptions to make it clear when they will hide “trolls” and when they will allow for debate, so each follower has a fair chance to express their opinions without creating an unsafe environment.

Be considered

If someone comments with constructive criticism directly aimed at your product or service without support by followers or incorrect facts or statements are gaining traction as part of a conversation, it’s probably appropriate to provide a comment.

The specific wording of the comment will depend on the context but usually cover:

- a clarification of a point or fact

- responding to a complaint 

- apologising for an error in a post made by the organisation that caused offence

It is crucial to prepare your response as quickly as possible to shift the conversation before it spirals. It is also important to acknowledge the comment, and understand the strong emotions that prompted it. In order to diffuse those emotions, begin your response with an empathetic statement validating the poster’s feelings. For example, “I hear your frustrations” or “We realise that the situation is challenging.” The response should be concise but comprehensive.

Be human and it’s ok to clamp down when necessary

Being offhand or dismissive is not the way to respond. In the information age, “We had no idea” no longer flies, and convoluted explanations only cause greater headaches. If you truly did not know the impact of your actions or words, focus on how you have learned otherwise. If something that caused offence has a different connotation or meaning to your organisation, explain that without being condescending. Be transparent about the situation and your organisation’s involvement to avoid any more backlash.

Ultimately, it will be your response, not the comments, that defines the interaction and on the whole people understand when honest mistakes are made so if you’re being fair, reasonable and clear in your response people will see and respect that.

Sometimes though, despite best intentions it can become blatantly clear that a person is just fixated in their view and are going out of their way to sabotage how your organisation is perceived. Should this occur and you’re receiving clearly abusive messages from a “troll”, go ahead – delete as you see fit.

Just remember Facebook is a great platform to demonstrate and promote your product, service and organisational values and when it comes to communicating with your audience, any haters can always be managed. To most effectively quell social media backlash, you can always get in touch at welcome@theclaritybusiness.co.nz and we can help create a clear crisis plan ahead of time and make sure your whole team is prepared to respond as quickly as possible.