If you manage your clients’ fanpage (or your own), sooner or later you might some vitriolic comments, which make no sense or are extremely annoying. What is certain is that they will put you in trouble and put you at a crossroads: what to do in these cases? Answering or letting go? And in case I decide to answer, how should I do this?
Don't panic: let's avoid the lurking nerve crisis and let’s throw some light on the art of giving the right answer at the right time.
1) Be relevant
First rule: provide a relevant and direct answer to a specific question. Don't turn on phrases and go straight to the point: use correct language and provide the information the client or the people interested in your brand need. Do you manage your own business? Nobody better than you can answer to the questions you will be asked. Are you the community manager of a brand? Ask to and discuss with internal company contacts, who will guide you on the type of answer to give, in case you need more information to reply promptly and precisely.
2) Be gentle
No user likes to receive annoyed or rude answers, no matter the question or comment. “Kill them with kindness”, some might say in these cases. Obviously you won’t need to resort to such drastic measures! Arm yourself with patience and lay down your “digital” arms: remember rule number 1 and give a kind answer to the questions you are asked. You will probably receive rude, sometimes offensive, maybe mournful, comments: in all of these cases it is very important to show empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of a client that might be complaining about a bad service: you would certainly want to speak with an understanding person, who understands the problem and knows how to solve it, wouldn’t you? The same rule is valid for social networks.
The recent case of the management of public comments on the Facebook page of INPS reminded us of the importance of this guideline: treasure it, no matter your position inside the company or agency you work for.
3) Be professional
Apart from some (rare) exceptions, it is better to avoid personal answers.
Are you the owner of a company and you manage your own social networks? Try to cut yourself off from your role: do not sign the comments with your name and do not speak in first person. You are not speaking about yourself and above all you are not managing your personal page: you are speaking about your brand and all the people that work with you, who deserve your professionalism. Answer in the name of your company but try to humanize it, using the plural instead of the singular and following rules 1 and 2.
4) Accept criticism
Sooner or later the decisive moment comes for all: no matter if your company is a multinational or a small company, one day you will see IT on your page, the negative comment. Criticism, often not constructive at all. A serious blow for the hard efforts we make everyday. Every criticism needs to be accepted and, if it is constructive, it is worthwhile to take it into consideration, internalizing it and, why not, report it to those who might be interested in it, especially if you manage the page for a third party. All comments, above all if they are negative, are potential insights to be shared if you want to improve the weakest elements of your company. Answer to the user/client expressing your reasons, kindly and above all without arrogance, in order to avoid running into point 5.
How to behave with a user, or many users, that try to make you answer in a misleading or instinctive way, being offensive and annoying? First of all, remember rule 3: probably you are managers or employees and, as such, you need to have an impartial behavior. Don’t fall into the traps of those who try to make you or the members of your community answer in a rude way, for pleasure or to provoke: the situation will get out of hand, this is certain! Showing your anger to the whole social world won’t nothing but multiply these comments and increase their visibility. Ignore trolls and #epicfail hunters, do not answer and go on your own way.
6) ALWAYS use common sense
In spite of these golden rules, which are worth in most cases, it will come the day when you will receive the comment you don’t expect and that will floor you. You will be undecided about whether to answer or not, how to do it (publicly or privately), how long to carry on the conversation, and so on. In all of these cases, another golden rule (and probably the most important one) is using common sense. Look at the situation from another point of view, grow apart as if you weren’t living it in first person, try to foresee the positive and negative aspects of your move, then act accordingly.
Do you still have doubts on how to behave? Do not hesitate to contact us to ask for help!