Laurel Papworth shares 8 ways to deal with negative comments
Updated on July 8th, 2013
One of the most common questions I am asked at presentations and workshops is “how do I deal with negative comments on social media?”
After telling a few stories about both good and bad ways of dealing with negative comments, I usually paint a hypothetical situation and let the audience members debate it in small groups and then de-brief at the end. Each group often takes a slightly different approach and they are all very valid.
The 2 most common responses I hear and advocate are:
1. Personally contact the person who left the negative comment and “show you care”. The ideal outcome here is that the negative commenter is “converted” into an advocate and adjusts his or her negative comment.
2. “Bury the negative comment under loads of positive comments.” If the negative commenter is unresponsive to the option above, try asking your community of supporters to stick up for you. If your community is strong, they will do this without asking!
Anyway, I have just found this brilliant article by Laurel Papworth that goes into even more detail about dealing with negative comments. Laurel is a social media community manager and #4 female blogger in Australia.
Here is the entire article, called 8 ways to deal with negative comments in online communities, but I have summarised it and added some of my own comments.
Here are Laurel Papworth’s 8 tips.
1. Ignore the negative social media commenter.
Ignore it and hope it goes away, but still continue to monitor. Be very careful they don’t set up an anti-community (eg Dell Hell). Laurel says sometimes the ‘negative comments’ can lead to heated debate which can translate into much needed publicity!
2. Lawyer Up!
Threaten to sue if they don’t remove the comments. Laurel warns that waving a big stick rarely works and you risk antagonising the community and making things MUCH worse.
3. Deflect to a more positive discussion
Thank the commenter, ask for more information and defuse the situation. I personally am a big fan of this one.
4. Remove the comment, Ban the commenter
“Just remember, the community trusts the moderators to keep a social network (like a Facebook Page) safe and relatively free of nastiness – it’s actually your duty to remove really bad comments and commenters”. This is supported by our recent article ‘Technology Lawyer Reminds Us ‘Your Facebook Wall is Your Responsibility!’
I personally think you should only remove defamatory, offensive and malicious comments. I’d advise leaving genuine comments from disgruntled people published or you may come across as nontransparent.
5. Educate the disgruntled customer
“Many a negative comment is a cry for help – telling them how to fix the problem will sometimes kick back a positive review to follow the negative one.” A timely, genuine & sympathetic helping hand often leads to converting them into an advocate.
6. Confess All and Beg Forgiveness
The temptation to say “sorry” to ignorant customers stems from the ‘out of date’ concept of the customer is always right. They are not, so don’t go overboard apologising to people. Laurel says, “Timely apologies for delays and a good explanation and asking for patience is fine. Thanking the community for their input and a promise to get back to them (and do it!) is great.’
7. Stand up and Fight
“Prepare to take on your customer, but not apologise for normal business practices and defend yourselves.” I agree that you can’t please everyone, so it’s worth taking a stand, but I’d personally not try to stir things up too much.
8. Own It and Wear It.
Laurel says, “Some of the best responses to online criticism I have seen have been to “own it”.” If you take the comments on board and ‘own it’ as part of your company’s DNA it can resonate with your ‘good clients’.
If you have 14 minutes, I recommend taking the time to hear Laurel expand on these tips.
Thanks Laurel. You can follow Laurel Papworth on twitter @SilkCharm
I’ve also heard Laurel runs very good ‘hands-on’ computer based social media marketing workshops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane!