A few times in recent months, I’ve read posts on Facebook in which parents defend their children against bullies who abuse others through the social network.
The subject of cyberbullying has dominated the headlines over the last year. Children and teens turn to Facebook and Twitter to communicate with one another, and abusive behavior that was once reserved for the school yard has moved online. Cyberbullying has become a very real problem.
Reading those posts got me thinking about how businesses are sometimes the victims of cyberbullying. A customer can post terrible comments on Facebook, insult the writer of a blog post, “tweet” reputation-damaging statements, all under the safe cloak of anonymity. Even when they’re not completely anonymous, they don’t have to look at the bewildered or pained face of a customer service rep or even listen to the voice of a person who is trying to rectify the situation.
Without face-to-face (or even over-the-phone) interaction, it’s much easier to be vicious, to say things that the person would never dream of saying to an actual person. It’s safe to assume that statements made in social media formats are sometimes—if not often—overblown. Still, organizations must address those comments to protect their reputations.
So how do you respond to negative comments targeted at your products or organization through the various social media outlets? Here are some suggestions:
- Focus on the facts. If someone posts something false, provide accurate information to set the record straight.
- Accept constructive criticism. If customers provide feedback—even if it is also insulting—publish the comments. Respond by thanking customers for their suggestions. You can either state that you are considering their feedback or quickly offer a solution that is already in place for resolving the issue.
- Own up to the criticism. Perhaps your organization has done something that warrants the negative comments. Publish the comments and apologize for the problem. That’s a great way to save face and show some integrity to your customers.
- Don’t become argumentative or rude. Use calm respectful language. Don’t make accusations or assumptions. Simply and quickly state your case.
- Clean house. Some people troll websites and write nasty comments for “fun.” Don’t respond to derogatory comments that have no merit. Ignore them. If the person continues to attack you, block him or her from commenting.
Ever had to deal with a cyber attack? Tell us how you handled it.