Dealing with negative comments on social media

These days, practically the first question on a client’s lips is about how they can stop internet trolls posting negative comments or unwarranted attacks on their brand’s social media forums.

The simple answer is that you can’t.

At one time or another, every brand will find itself in a social media maelstrom with the reputations of the brand and those associated with it under attack from competitors (whose motive is to make their rivals look bad) or ticked off customers. Of course, sometimes the criticism is justified, but in many cases, it’s proudly self-proclaimed ‘haterz’ trolling the internet and spreading poison for the sheer joy of it.

In the case of justified customer criticism, the solution is simple: sort it. Whatever you do, don’t remove the post. Publicly acknowledge the issue, apologise and solve it speedily, with grace and generosity. It’s an opportunity to put a positive spin on the situation and show your brand in a good light to prospective customers.

In the case of trolls, social media experts generally agree on a couple of key fundamentals:

DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Trolls)

Whilst a natural (and very human) reaction is to tell trolls to stick their posts where the sun don’t shine, it’s a huge mistake to fight bile with bile, fire with fire. It not only feeds the trolls the oxygen of attention they crave, but also allows them to dictate the conversation and take your brand down to their level.

Channel Aretha: Show R E S P E C T

Just like the legendary Ms Franklin, most social media communities demand respect. They have no time for egotism and lack of respect from anyone in an online war of words. In fact, posting incendiary comments most often results in the community self-regulating the conversation by turning against the poster. Let the trolls play in the sewer. It’s better to say nothing than to join them there. However, if a reply is absolutely, positively, necessary, keep it short and respectful, along the lines of: “Thank you for your feedback.”

As mentioned, both these pieces of advice are widely accepted as excellent approaches to dealing with negative and/or inflammatory comments. However, I also thought it might also be constructive to try and understand those who leave them…

Know Your Enemy

…so with their minds in mind, here’s How To Join the Online Haterz or, if you’d rather, How to Become A Troll or, even, How To Be A Complete Ass On The Internet.

Your very first step is to pick your user name. Names like Xturmin8or1 are highly sought after amongst the males of the species, whilst the likes of malicia_666 seem popular with the (ahem) ladies. Next, demonstrate the spelling and grammar skills of a mentally-challenged chicken that does not speak English as a native language and suffers from frequent fits. Furthermore, you must sincerely believe you can come up with a much better product or service than the brand you’re attacking as in: “u pay’d $$$’s 4 this stuffs seriosly U R all rettardz!!!1!”.

Also, please bear in mind that if you ever use a semi colon, say, or proper plurals instead of simply adding a “z”, you will be ostracised by the entire worldwide troll community (who would meet regularly if only they had the courage to turn their caps-locks off and come out from behind the anonymity of computers).

Other requirements include seething rage, desperate and unfulfilled attention-seeking, inbuilt idiocy, complete irrationality, 19 words for “gay” and, if you are Xturmin8or1, teeny tiny boy’s bits.

Given these criteria, maybe the next time your brand’s attacked, the best reaction would be to take example from the wise words of Mr. T and simply “Pity the fools,” then happily continue making your brand – and your life – a success.

Henry AdamsDealing with negative comments on social media