How to deal with negative comments on your social media

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Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Most charities now have some presence on social, and use it to educate, attract new supporters and raise vital funds for their cause.

Sometimes, however, there will be negative feedback. For every few comments singing your praises, there will be the odd one who uses your posts to complain – about the campaign, about the charity itself, the cause, the fact you’re on Facebook at all – you name it. This might be especially true if you do paid social campaigns, as you will be reaching an audience new to your charity.

So how do you make sure one comment doesn’t derail your whole day?

  1. Don’t feed the trolls. If someone has 8 numbers after their username and only uses their account to abuse people, chances are they aren’t looking to have their mind changed. Block them on Twitter, delete their comment and move on.
  2. Debate is healthy. If someone has a genuine ideological problem with your cause, try to remember that not everyone has to always agree. Sometimes your supporters will defend you without any prompting. Facebook and Twitter both prioritise posts with discussions, so as long as there’s nothing abusive or offensive being said, keep an eye on the debate from a distance, but leave them to it.
  3. Be prepared. There will be questions and comments that come up all the time. If you are unsure what they are, check in with teams that talk to your supporters – they will know what feedback comes up a lot. Have some answers prepared and distribute them to anyone who has responsibility for responding on social.
  4. Shine light, not heat. Sometimes it can be sorely tempting to tell that person exactly what you think of them. This would be both unprofessional and most likely not de-escalate the situation. Step away from the computer for a few minutes, or ask a colleague to respond.
  5. Deal with real complaints. Sometimes your post about a new campaign will remind someone that they were unsatisfied with the service they got in one of your shops or when they were talking to a street fundraiser. Sometimes, there might be a very serious complaint from a service user. Quickly ask for their email address, acknowledge on the post that you are taking the matter offline, and ask the most relevant colleague to follow up separately. For really serious stuff, escalate quickly. You should have an internal policy for anything that might damage your reputation.
  6. Respond to positive comments. Comments you interact with get pushed to the top of the comment pile and are made more visible than everything else – so put your best foot forward.

Social can genuinely be a channel for great things, and inspire masses of support from large numbers of people. Be prepared, keep your cool and try to focus on all the positive feedback your charity is getting instead.

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