In an age where consumers can privately speak to businesses directly and publicly - what should you do if the feedback is negative? In order to understand further, let's strip it down to basics:
Prior to the rise of the internet, all forms of media were known as 'push' media. The only option that a business had, historically, was to push their message onto the consumer through printed advertising, television or radio, whereby the messaged fell into a void of silence. Fast forward to now. With a significant proportion of advertising done via online platforms, and companies interacting direct with customers on social media, this opens up the forum for negative, silly, provocative or sweary comments and spam. In other words - trolls. So what can we do about it?
Common Sense Advice for Dealing With Silly People Online
So... first and foremost, let's deal with those pesky Trolls. Trolls go online and post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms with the sole purpose of causing upset. They may start controversial arguments, spew hate-speech, swear and generally cause a nuisance. A troll isn't generally an angry customer and please don't mistake them for one. So what can one do?
JUST. IGNORE. THEM.
Avoid getting pulled into an argument.
This is easier said than done. Publicly, because of the lack of a troll's ability to communicate in a way that looks like that of a 'normal' internet user, most reasonable people will see them for what they are. A lack of response is like the old way to deal with a bully - ignore them, and it takes out the fun. However, sometimes trolls take things too far. Like escalating to threats or hate speech. If they do, on some of the social platforms there may be a way to block or ban them. Also, check the terms and conditions for allowed content for that social network. If the troll’s posts are in violation, submit a report.
If ever in doubt, follow the first rule of the internet: Do not feed the trolls.
When to Respond
Do not mistake a genuine complaint from a customer for a Troll. A complaint is generally not silly (however you may feel about it - they're still complaining, and everyone else can see this) and needs facing head on. Remember - the internet is a space for all to express their views, regardless of their spelling skills or eloquence. And social media is the easiest place to go to sprout anger publicly. Perhaps the comments are shouty or sweary, but...do they have a point? Do the same themes keep arising time after time? And if so, should you do something? The best way to handle this is this:
Politely (attract bees with honey, remember) thank them for their feedback, and ask them to personal message their details to your page. This pulls them out of the public domain and expresses to other potential customers that you are willing to listen to - and do something about - negative feedback. And as a finality, don't ignore it. Speaking to customers online is an important part of your business. For the first time ever, people can actually speak to your business, which has significantly more benefits than negatives... so make sure you listen.