Handling Negativity on Social Media

June 9, 2018
Dustin Manley

People against your organization or services are three times more likely to speak out than your supporters. Jan Enns and Julie Rogers encourage public relations and communication practitioners to keep this in mind when dealing with backlash and negative comments on their organizations’ social media channels.

Every organization, whether private, public, or not-for-profit, will experience their fair share of issues, crises, and abuse on their social media channels. The important thing for social media managers is to be calm, proactive, and conversational in their responses—finding the right balance of “sincerity and sass”—to mitigate the issues and inform stakeholders.

Enns and Rogers identify the following four types of negative social media interactions and the ideal ways to mitigate them:

  1. Question: directly answer it, regardless of the tone it is posed in.
  2. Complaint: fix it and apologize.
  3. Misinformation: correct it.
  4. Rant: ignore it; assess and respond; or wait for your supporters to enter the conversation.

In preparing a message or response to any of the above interactions, it is important to keep the following things in mind:

  • What is the key issue being addressed?
  • Do not respond right away to any negatively charged interaction.
    Give yourself time to calm down and respond more objectively later.
  • Respond publicly so that everyone can see that you did respond.
  • Be empathetic in your response. This is a spectator sport and people will always support the little guy.
  • Only answer up to two times.

Optimism and accuracy (and setting up the profanity filter) are essential traits for success in social media management. Keeping these tips in mind while finding that balance in sincerity and sass will make community management and public information a more mutually beneficial experience.

A version of this blog is available on designedux.com.