Defending your turf on social media

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Social mediaTypically when I speak at conferences on the topic of social media, it’s not long before someone invariably asks the question,

“Should I respond to a negative review/comment on Facebook page?”

The answer is certainly not a simple one – in fact, I’ve spent an entire session speaking on the very topic. So a brief opine on the page here will not necessarily do this topic justice. What I will offer up instead is a framework for evaluating the basic tenants for making a well-informed decision.

  • Easy stuff:
    • Did you screw up? Let’s face it, sometimes your customers have to call you out. If so, cop to it, acknowledge every so humble, vow to correct it, and move on. Don’t make a big deal about it (unless it is a big deal!) If you are a good business, you can take constructive criticism and your customers will love you for it.
    • Is the person factually wrong? I had someone recently get all dramatic that my organization was supporting a political party because they were naive enough to associate a political sign on the property of the office space we rent with our business. They never thought it might be placed by another tenant… and, their post went on dramatically (and made many ridiculous comments) about what our business stands for, just by judging a few people who were coming and going from our building). In this case, we were quick to calmly point out that our business didn’t place those signs (explaining that the space is shared). We also went on to explain that we have many programs and policies in place that contradict the assumptions the poster was making (and provided examples). Interestingly enough, the poster deleted their comment pretty quickly. Another win for us.
  • Harder stuff:
    • Is the person trying to pick a fight?
    • Is the person complaining and not making any sense?
    • Is the person unwilling to be helped?

For the hard stuff, you need to understand that social media is often a game of chess. The better players anticipate the various reactions the opponent will have to your move. So if you reply to a social media “hater”, you need to anticipate and prepare for all the various possible replies. Using this mentality, chart the probability that the person is simply going to argue with you further. Is that a good outcome? Drawing more attention? Probably not. Engage if you genuinely believe the outcry is for help – not hurt. But tread carefully. You can always be empathetic.

The empathetic approach:

  • Sorry you’re annoyed
  • We want to help
  • We want to understand
  • Do you want us to help?
  • DM us your issue and we’ll help offline
  • Or, indicate that you have contacted them offline

When engaging a hater online, and you reach a resolution offline – but the hater doesn’t update or remove their post… it’s okay to ask them to do so. Or, simply reply back to their post and say, “I’m glad we were able to resolve the issue for you. Let us know if we can help further.”

Just remember, you don’t have to reply to every post. And sometimes your customers will come to your defense. But make sure they take it easy. Loyal brand advocates can be a lethal army. We’ll talk about that later.