For many years now, the term ‘troll’ has been far removed from the cute dolls of the 90s known for their long fluoro hair.
Trolls have become the bane of many brands’ and personalities’ existence, as troublemakers sit as cowards behind their keyboards, with only one mission - to try and bring them down.
Dealing with negative comments on your social media platform has become a minefield in distinguishing between negative feedback from people who simply don’t agree or rate your brand, to people (with many hiding behind a fake profile) who are purposely disruptive, irrational or completely irrelevant.
Dealing with negative feedback on social media can be tough to navigate and it’s hard for many of us not to take it personally.
It’s important that in times like these you remove yourself from the situation and think like a PR professional. How you respond will influence two outcomes – you could neutralise the situation, or exacerbate it.
Also remember, you’re not just talking to the complainant, you’re in a public forum. Your words will resonate throughout your audience and they could be ripped from the page and shared elsewhere.
I’m of the opinion that you should try your best not to delete comments, unless the comments are incredibly offensive, derogatory, or expletives have been used (ensure you’ve included a social media policy on your profile to advise this won’t be tolerated).
You want to show your social media community that you brand is responsive, rational, considerate and wants to work with your community for the best possible outcomes.
So, how do you manage negative feedback? Your first mission is to take a negative conversation offline, steering it into a private message, email or phone conversation.
This can be done through replying with a statement similar to:
“Hi <name>. Thanks for your feedback and we’re sorry to hear you haven’t enjoyed our <product>. We’d like to hear more. Please could you send us a private message, or email and we can take this further.”
This sometimes isn’t enough. If the offending person continues to complain in the thread, you will need to reaffirm your message to take the conversation offline.
“We appreciate your concern <name>. We do require you to contact us via private message or email so we can take this further.”
Ensure you keep an eye on the thread and what they continue to write. If the person is genuinely unhappy with your product, they should contact you via message or email. If they abuse you and refuse to take the conversation offline, I then place them in the ‘irrational’ category and it’s likely they actually never bought your product and just want freebies or to be damaging.
If this person is relentless and offensive, I suggest screenshotting the conversation for your records, and then deleting and blocking the person.
Trolling or negative feedback can be posted on your profile at the most inconvenient times, whether that’s during the night (meaning people will have seen it prior to you getting a chance to respond) or when you’re busy during the day and it’s the last thing you want to manage.
The important thing is to pause and think about the best way to respond, no matter how busy you are. Feedback might be irrational, but you can be measured and calm.
I suggest being proactive with your social media management.
A great way is to be prepared for as many questions as you can. Do this by creating an FAQs document of potential questions that might be asked on social media. Include some negative questions. Then draft answers of how you might respond. This will put you in a good position for any general questions or complaints that might come about. You’ll definitely get some curly ones at times, but at least you’ll have a good base of responses.
At Elevate, we are always on hand to help with managing your social media community, whether that’s being proactive in helping you develop a social media policy and FAQs, or assisting you with the reactive.
Contact us to find out more and how we can help you.