Yep, there’s one in every bunch: the “Debbie Downer,” the snarky imp who always sees the glass as half empty: surely you’re familiar with the type?
These individuals reside in our social media sites just waiting for the next opportunity to wreak havoc in your groups and feeds. And while Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become integral to how we share information, they have also become repositories for negative commentary. How will you respond?
The truth is that you must respond – and quickly. The longer negativity lingers, the longer your audience has to form an opinion. A lack of acknowledgement almost implies that the post is true!
You may recognize some of these offenders from your own social media pages:
- Perennially cranky customers:
Social media sites aren’t the place for a good rant. Pick up the phone, call them and try to find some common ground. Do not email them: call them. They’ll appreciate the time you took to hear their concerns – and so will you.
- Legitimate criticism:
Acknowledge it and keep your reply short and sweet. No need to dwell on it!
- Inaccurate statements:
Nothing spreads faster than a juicy rumor or bit of misinformation on a social media network. I’ve witnessed it first-hand! Shut these down and post a timely correction.
- Inappropriate content:
Sites must have a code of conduct by which all abide that address how unseemly behavior is managed. Content that defames or infringes (think copyright here) should be removed immediately. Bounce and block repeat offenders.
- Sales pitches:
I have a bee in my bonnet on this topic and I’m alarmed by the volume of blatant sales pitches proliferating social media sites these days. These often debase the remaining valuable content generated by the site and belong under the “Promotions” tab – or likely don’t belong there at all. Codes of conduct should address these too.
Some tips for replying to these posts:
- Keep your tone neutral.
This is neither the time nor place to have an emotional eruption. Reply professionally and dispassionately.
- Acknowledge the author’s feelings.
Thank the writer of the post for sharing their feedback with you, even if it’s negative. People want to be heard and your positive approach will set the proper tone for what you’ll convey in your reply.
- You blew it? Own it!
Mistakes happen: acknowledge yours, painful though it may be. Demonstrate what you’ve learned from the experience, how you’ll prevent it in the future and move on.
- Be firm on the message, soft on the delivery
This is great advice that a former manager once gave me. Engaging in a verbal battle will only prolong your agony. Do not yell through your computer, even if you’re tempted to. Your audience is watching.
- End on a high note – if you can.
Although this isn’t always possible, focus on a positive outcome from whatever it is that went wrong.