Fortunately, this was when the public relations half of my degree proved its worth. I scheduled a meeting with the CEO and VP of the company, and explained to them that I believed the best way we could respond is to always validate the ‘haters’ feelings and at least try to make it right. ‘Cuz guess what? Every hater has loads of other hater friends that are more than willing to take their place on your Facebook wall. You don’t want to be blocking others just for the hell of it.
It took more than that one meeting, but eventually they both saw the value in responding to EVERY post/comment/tweet, even if it was negative. If it was a complaint about a product, or our company, we would try to solve it through private messaging. If it was a complaint we were getting from many people, we would address it visibly in comments. If it was someone making an inappropriate comment, sometimes we would hide it, but other times we would make some joke in a comment to let them know that we were trying to keep our page clean.
Now, obviously the ‘block’ button is there for a reason. I highly discourage using it, but if someone is constantly using profanity and being downright disgusting on your page, then you need to use it. I was forced to use it at points, because, believe it or not, competitors of this company would actually pay others to go onto our Facebook page and slam it. Those types of haters will not go away, no matter how diplomatic you are.
Today, I am super grateful for that first social media job, because it prepared me for the worst of the social media haters. Through trial and error, I was able to discover a pretty solid system for managing negative engagement, but also for using those negative comments and posts to better the company. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about your company from those negative nancys.
The number one thing to remember about the haters is to not take it personally as the social media manager. As the saying goes, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” (Although, sometimes it is the social media manager’s fault for just not thinking some posts through, but that’s a whole other blog post entitled, “What were they thinking?!”.)
-Marji J. Sherman
Great article! Thanks
This is spot on but…in all honesty…sometimes this is just flat out difficult to do…
Great post! I’ll be sharing! It demonstrates the value of having a PR professional (or crisis communication manager) in social media positions. I’m currently working with a client with big time haters. The haters do many of the things you described. Before I took over social media, representatives from my client had either aggressively argued with or blocked the haters. My PR background came in handy as I adopted a similar approach to yours: respond positively (and, when appropriate, humorously) to every comment and courteously explain the types of comments that would be subject to deletion. After a few exchanges, we managed to convert some haters into fans. Over the course of a few weeks, we were able to identify the haters that would never choose to be civil and confidently banned them. Engagement and responsiveness should always be the “go-to” approach. If it’s too hard for someone internal to the organization to handle communication with haters, a social media manager with PR/crisis communication experience can be a huge help in navigating encounters with vocal haters.
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