Social Media – Handling Negative or Deceitful Comments
How does one handle negative comments or outright lies being posted on social platforms across the web? This is becoming a greater and greater concern and the root problem is that social media cannot truly be “controlled”. The best defense is of course a good offense. Providing consistent company information and keeping engaged with your community can go a long way towards building and retaining loyalty even under attack. But what happens when your brand is targeted from competitors, political or environmental groups and the negative impacts begin to take on a life of their own?
The first rule is to remain calm! Do not respond immediately, do not try to stop the discussions. Read through all of the comments and take the necessary time to thoroughly understand the issue or issues being raised. Research within and beyond your company and gather factual, accurate information about the true situation. Honesty and accuracy are your best weapons.
Once you have all of the facts it is important to be transparent. Do not defend your brand but do offer up accurate, factual information for those who wish to learn more. You may want to create a special page on your website that includes factual information and links to other documents or public information including better business ratings, the company guide to business conduct, ethical practices statements, public financial records etc. about your company that would get the real facts circulated. If you discover there is a partial truth contained within the lies admit any error on the part of your brand. Stress that the company wants to be responsive to their community’s concerns and takes them seriously. Follow that up with what steps your company is taking to deal with the issues and remedy the situation. Keep your community informed regarding your progress.
Another option to counteract incorrect or false information about your brand is to consider providing a special phone number (hotline) community members can call for additional information. The goal of such steps is merely to provide open, factual information and allow your community to see that your brand is committed to transparency for their constituents.
Make certain that the reputations of your employees who are responsible for social media within your company are spotless-personally and professionally. You want your brand represented by professional, ethical, honest and caring people. Anyone that does not rise to this level of professionalism should be reassigned away from any social media activity on behalf of the company. Always put your best face forward in social media. You do not want to provide detractors with any ammunition they can use against you.
Rely on your loyal customers and fans to help set the record straight. Know and develop strong relationships with your influencers and customers. Let them help you balance the playing field by posting related positive comments and links to information that addresses the facts of an issue. If they have a personal experience that contradicts the issue being raised encourage them to share it. If negativity is high it may be a good time to add additional video testimonials to your site or a video that addresses current events affecting your company. This provides yet another way of providing disseminating factual information to the community indirectly without posting anything defensive on social platforms.
Some of the things you must avoid are postings that appear to be defensive – regardless of whether they are true or not. Do not make negative comments about any company or person who posted negative comments about your brand. This begins a campaign of mud-slinging that will only further hurt your brand. It is non-productive and will not be received well by the community.Do not pull your social media pages. Do track and use daily alerts so you can monitor comments and stay on top of the chatter. If something negative is posted, deal with it quickly (after doing your due diligence) to avoid it escalating into something big.