As a marketer, stellar content creation is a major priority and you carefully strategize every tiny detail with stunning precision. You feel confident and are proud of what you and your team have pulled together in order to bolster your brand’s success.
Then you release that precious piece of content into the wild… aka the Internet.
Expect a rainbow of responses in return. Hopefully, the positive feedback will greatly outweigh the negative/ bothersome. Given the nature of the beast, prepare yourself for a few sour notes.
So, what should you do when coveted audience members take to your Facebook Page, company blog, etc. and post combative, less-than-flattering, or spammy comments?
First things first, have a clear plan of action and ensure that your entire team follows the exact same plan across ALL platforms where your brand has a presence. Having guidelines posted helps everyone involved!
For example, state your brand’s Facebook Page community expectations within the “About” section and list instances where fan material may be removed. Having that information displayed publicly helps brands to be transparent and can be referred to when needed.
Types of People & Interactions That Need Attention
Trolls: We’re not talking “Three Billy Goats Gruff” here. Trolls love the fact that their running internet commentary can remain mostly anonymous. Hiding behind a computer screen just feeds their ability to be cruel, irritating, and damaging. If they show up on your Facebook Page or company’s blog, DO NOT start a confrontation with them and fight fire with fire. That just makes your brand look foolish and immature. If the root of their ire seems to be legitimate, provide them with relevant company contact information. Do not provide them with contact information that leads nowhere or to someone without the ability to actually help them. Providing unhelpful solutions will just escalate the situation.
Now if a troll just makes snarky comments about the content being shared or your brand in more general terms, but is otherwise harmless, leave them be. They will eventually get bored and move on. Trolls sometimes get very nasty, attacking other users and peppering their comments with profanity or slurs. Feel free to ban these trolls or hide/ delete their inappropriate comments. Since you so wisely posted community expectations within the “About” section of your brand page, they can’t argue with your decision.
To make your life easier, you can block certain offensive words and profanity from showing up on your Facebook Page or blog comment stream. (Check out your specific blog platform’s comment curation settings.) Within Facebook, simply click on “Edit Page” within your Admin Panel and select “Edit Settings” to customize your filters.
Spam-A-Lot: Spammers are everywhere on Facebook and blog comment streams. “Shop for cheap Nikes! Get 1,000 magical wizard coins! Like this and be kissed by midnight!” This situation is easy to handle… move your cursor over to the “x” next to their comment and delete. If they show up more than once with spam or appear to be a fake profile, ban them from your page. Keeping a running list of possible spammers helps you determine if they are a hacking victim or need to be removed.
Concerned Citizen: If a fan takes to your properties to convey their disappointment, bad experience, or frustration be sure to address their concerns quickly. Their concerns may have nothing to do with your specific piece of content, address it anyway. Invite the fan to direct message your page (fans must initiate this interaction), call a customer service number, or email a knowledgeable brand representative that can fully handle the situation. Don’t let negative comments stew and go unanswered, this just further infuriates the upset fan and looks unprofessional. Don’t poke the bear and make unhelpful comments such as, “We’ll get back to you very soon!”
Like it or not, social media has become another extension of customer service. If you are not equipped to answer the comment, find someone within your company to guide you toward the correct response. Moving the issue off of the wall or post comment dialog is vital and resolving the problem to the best of your brand’s ability is imperative. Turning an angry fan into a brand enthusiast is possible if they feel their issue is being met with care and consideration.
Critic Corner: Your piece of content might spark a few readers to ask tough questions (ex. Does your company use genetically modified corn? If so, I’m not buying your products ever again.) or even vehemently disagree with the viewpoints expressed in a blog post. In the face of criticism or being grilled, keep your wits and provide answers to difficult questions as best you can. (We source our corn from Iowa and are actively involved in ensuring our corn is non-GMO. Here’s a link to more information about our corn’s origin.) It’s okay if a reader disagrees or shares a differing option, it’s going to happen. It’s not okay if a brand lashes out in response. Amy’s Baking Company provides a great example of what not to do in the face of criticism.
No matter what response comes your way: keep alert, keep calm, and handle each situation with professionalism.