This Isn’t Fight Club: Handling Negative Feedback

You’ve put in the time and effort to create an engaging and interactive social media plan, implemented it, and are seeing some great results – increased traffic to your website, great participation in online promotions, elevated attendance at events. And then it happens…. negative, angry and sometimes rude comments appear.

DON’T PANIC. This is a very common occurrence with online media, and can be found anywhere from comment sections on local news reports to message boards about actors on IMDB. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong, or even that someone is actually mad at you. And while your first reaction may be to retaliate, we’ve got a few tips that will help you keep your cool, understand what’s going on and stay true to your messaging.

Where is it coming from?

If you’ve received the unwanted comment via a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook, it’s generally easier to trace it back to an actual living human than if it’s on your blog or through your website. What we find in the interactive media world is that because of recent privacy settings designed to deter “robots” from creating their own Facebook pages, spam comments seem to be more frequent via message boards and blog sites where those settings aren’t as frequently used.

What is it addressing?

Sometimes people just have differing views, sometimes they are trying to help you out with suggestions. Some people want to be viewed as MORE of an expert than you, and sometimes people just want to start a fight. What you need to do first is determine what their motive is. From what we’ve found it will generally be one of the following:

Actual Problems – someone who has had first-hand experience with your product or service feels there is something wrong with it, has provided you with the reasons why, and likely is showing your business in a bad light. They may even be trying to bad-mouth your company and start a conflict.

Constructive Criticism – often a customer who is suggesting ways you can improve your product or service.

Spammers – generally a person or “robot” that doesn’t have any valid reason for being angry at you, but is just there to promote their competing service.

What are you going to do about it?

Before we even continue, the number one rule to always remember in any situation where you are being attacked is to STAY POSITIVE. Even though you may feel personally hurt or that all the effort you’ve been putting into your business has been thrown out the window – you must not overreact or engage in a “digital fight.”

For the most part, with the exception of the spammers, you should attempt to deal with the disgruntled user directly. In the worst case scenario, if your commenter has pointed out an actual problem or mistake that your company has made, your audiences should be notified of it and be made aware that steps are being taken to fix it.  Thank the commenter for pointing out the problem – many companies will offer a refund, gift or future discount on services to this so-called whistleblower.

Other times individuals will attack you based on what they perceive as a problem, when it fact it’s simply the way that your company operates. Offering an explanation to that person, in a public forum, about why it is that you do business in the way you do is likely the best option. Keep in mind that your positive reactions and letting your followers, readers and customers know that you are there to listen to them and that you are acknowledging their criticism and complaints will help you to build loyalty and return clients.

Those who offer you constructive criticism should be handled in a similar way. Being upbeat and very open to this type of feedback is best – even if you know that you won’t be implementing their suggestions (and it’s likely you won’t). A lot of times, as we mentioned above, individuals will feel the need to spread their own knowledge – whether it’s right or wrong – out into the public. Taking it in graciously will avoid any future conflicts.

And finally, as far as responding to spammers is concerned – it isn’t necessary. If it appears on your blog or website, you can simply delete the comment and move on. If it’s on your Facebook you can delete it as well, and if it’s on Twitter you can probably just ignore it. Spammers change their usernames so frequently that if you were to try and report its existence, there is a strong chance it has already been discontinued.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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