‘He’s been taken in for questioning by the police.’
Woh! This was the outcome of a comment on Facebook that had been posted less than 24 hours before. A straightforward Facebook update generated a string of friendly banter — until one, very nasty comment. It was violent and sexually explicit.
The person monitoring the page immediately took a screenshot then hid the comment, the user was blocked and the issue escalated to the relevant parties including legal advisors. They then notified the police, who responded accordingly.
This was one of those very rare occurrences, but we were prepared for it. We had put in place a comment grading system, with appropriate responses and processes mapped out for each level. It was crystal clear what needed to happen when the comment was posted.
It’s sad that the process was required at all, but the potential for damage in social media comes from the unknowable scenario, the wild card, not just your regular complaints or what you’ve dealt with in the past.
There are 3 key factors here:
Someone was monitoring the page and saw the comment.
House rules were set on the page.
A social media response plan was in place for all comments.
There are a ton of different tools that you might use to manage your social media. Here are some you might like to try:
Hootsuite – is a great starting point. It starts off as a free tool and you can always upgrade to the premium paid version once you’re up and running.
Mention – is an awesome way to monitor what is being said about you online both on social and on websites. It also has a basic free version.
TalkWalker Alerts is a free service to fill the shoes of Google Alerts. They are a really simple (and free) way to keep an eye on what is being said about you online. For example I keep alerts out for “Bluewire Media”, “Toby Jenkins” and “Adam Franklin”.
“House rules” are your social media commenting policy which helps to set expectations for anyone wanting to get involved in your community.
We keep our House Rules very simple on the About Us tab on our Facebook page (feel free to copy):
Thanks for your interest in our page!
We really appreciate you leaving comments, photos, videos, and links here. However, we will review all comments and remove any that are inappropriate or offensive.
Thanks again for sharing and contributing.
Toby and Adam
Here are a couple of other examples I like:
Coca-cola’s Facebook page is a good corporate example with T&Cs that come with it:
This is your Fan Page and we encourage you to leave comments, photos, and videos here. However, we will review all comments and will remove any that are inappropriate, offensive, or contain external links. We will leave what you share that relates to the subjects covered on this Page. Please understand that comments posted to this Page do not represent the opinions of The Coca-Cola Company.
Tim Ferriss sets a simple standard for comments on his blog:
Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)
Image source: Berniethomas68
Once you’ve got your House Rules in place, you can start to formulate your response plan.
Social Media Response Plan
We can help you sleep easy at night with the final piece of the puzzle – the social media response plan (free template download here).
The 6 levels of social media comments
So what are the 6 critical types of social media comments you must plan for?
Let’s use a burger joint to work with as an example.
Any comment that’s favourable.
Eg: “My burger was awesome!”
It’s always nice getting positive feedback, so use these opportunities to strengthen the relationship with that person. A simple ‘thanks’ usually does the trick. You can also share the love internally with your team.
A comment that is neither good nor bad.
Eg: “I’m having a burger for lunch.”
Responding to this kind of comment is up to you, but we recommend it. It’s a great excuse to engage in a conversation with a customer but if you’re way too busy, it’s also fine to let it go.
3. Negative – respond
This is a genuine negative comment.
Eg: “My burger was cold and took forever.”
Genuine complaints typically make up 99 per cent of negative comments, so it’s very important to have a clear process on how to respond. It’s good to keep a record so always remember to screenshot the comment. If you acknowledge the issue, apologise for it and then act to resolve it, you’ll have gone a long way to sorting it out. Try to follow up to make sure the issue is resolved too. These can be great opportunities to create what David Meerman Scott calls “badvocates”. These are people who’ve had a bad experience with you that, through great customer service, become advocates for your business.
4. Negative – ignore
This is a negative comment by a “troll” (a deliberate trouble-maker).
Eg: “Burgers are evil and so are the people that eat them.”
As in the Level 3 example above, keep a record and screenshot the comment. The unfortunate reality of the Internet is that trolls exist and they crave attention. So the best approach is to ignore them. The rule of thumb is “don’t feed the trolls“. Responding to them only gives them the attention they desire and deleting their comments only throws fuel on the fire and gives them an incentive to comes back under a different alias.
5. Negative – remove
This is a comment that is offensive, malicious or spam. That is, it breaches your “House Rules”.
Eg: “My waitress was a %^&*.”
Screenshot the comment then remove it and explain that it has breached your “House Rules”. You can warn the offender or block them if necessary.Either way, it’s a good opportunity to enforce your expectations and set the tone for your community.
These are comments that have legal or criminal ramifications (eg. threat of violence, breach of confidentiality, defamation, PR disaster etc).
Eg. “I’m going to burn this burger joint down.”
Screenshot the comment immediately and then escalate it to police, legal advisers or management for further advice as necessary. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this response, but having a plan in place to deal with it is the most important part. Then you’ll know exactly what to do if the time ever comes and you’ll be able to respond well under the pressure.
To set these processes in place for your business, you can use our free Negative Comments Response Template (for Social Media).
How have you found dealing with comments on your social media networks? Let me know in the comments below.