June 14, 2012
Haters gotta hate. That's what my friend John says when I complain about a hateful comment someone has left on my blog. If you've got a blog or Facebook page for your business, you will, at some point, encounter angry commenters. Here are some tips on how to handle the situation professionally:
1. Not responding is not an option. Like the bullies in middle school, if you just ignore them, they'll go away. Right? Not so much. Ignoring an angry commenter will incite his anger, causing him to leave more angry comments. It also allows him to control the conversation on your site. You need to respond to give voice to your business, to show that you're aware of the problem and that you plan to remedy it.
2. Don't just delete. If you think deleting your hater's comments will make him go away, it will. He'll continue to disparage you on other sites where you have no control over the content. A better option is to try to solve the problem on your own turf — your blog, Twitter account or Facebook page.
3. Respond quickly. Social media happens in real time, so you need to repsond as quickly as possible to negative commenters. Acknowledging them quickly shows that you care about what happened to them, that you care about your company/brand and that you want to rectify the situation. Wait too long to respond and it may be too late to respond.
4. Be brief. Acknowledge the commenter's grievance, if appropriate, give a generic apology, then offer to provide him with contact information to reach you directly. For example, "Jim, I'm sorry that you had a bad experience at our restaurant. I'm Sam Peterson, the general manager. Please call me at XXX-XXXX so I can help you with this."
5. Don't engage: Breathe deeply, count to 10, salsa dance. Do whatever you have to do to calm down before responding. Firing off an angry (if justified) response will only escalate the matter. Moreover, it sends a message to your other fans/clients/prospective clients that you're argumentative rather than professional.
Is there ever a time to delete an irate comment? Yes. If the comment is profane and offensive to other readers/customers/clients, then it should be removed. It's a good idea to privately address the offending individual explaining that you'd like him to share his thoughts but in a socially acceptable way.
Delete a comment when: Profanity or threatening language is used. It's SPAM disguised as a comment. It doesn't relate to the topic or post in any meaningful way.
Photo credit: FCC, Gerry