Jennifer Goff in Social Media Today provides five suggestions for handling negative social media comments. The challenge here is you need to combine discretion, speed, sensitivity and personalization in your answers — meaning the front-line staffers who read and respond to social media postings need to be empowered to combine some really challenging human interaction challenges.
Here are her main points (you can read the details in the original article:
- Listen carefully;
- Remember that response time matters;
- Be human, be transparent, and never go negative;
- Respond publicly before moving to a private conversation; and
- Know when to engage, and when not to.
In a practical sense, these assertions suggest if your business operates at any scale at all, you need a 24-7 (or at least reasonable waking hours) live monitoring status on social media; and that evening/weekend person will need to have some pretty significant discretionary powers. (Goss suggests that reasonable response time will vary depending on your industry and circumstances, but almost half of the social media audience thinks that a response time of about an hour is reasonable.)
The “know when to engage and when not to” also is a challenge because, as she writes, there is no value in arguing with trolls who engage in racist or hateful behaviour — because as she also suggests, you can’t go “negative” — even when negativity would seem the only right thing to do.
The point is that social media has become the front line of client communications and relationships. Slip up, and the negative word-of-mouth will multiply and spread, and truly damage your brand. Get it right, and you can nip the complaints in the bud and restore the marketplace’s trust in your business.