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How you respond to negative comments says more about your company than any other thing you do. Whenever you respond to anything online (and often even offline), you are never responding to just one person. Even if it’s a simple DM. Your answer can always be seen and judged by many, so keep that in mind.

I believe that any community is largely a reflection of how it’s being managed. So here are some tips that will help you deal with negativity in a way that your community will appreciate.

 

  1. Respond

Obvious one, eh? Or so you might think. It’s shocking how many companies refuse to respond to negative comments. Now, I’m not talking about the obvious troll comments that are only trying to provoke some kind of negative response (different rules apply to those type of comments). I’m talking about customers complaining about the quality of service or a faulty product. Showing you are not afraid to face those comments will generate more goodwill in your community.

 

  1. Acknowledge their feelings (always, always)

I cannot stress how important this point is. Whether you think their comments is founded or unfounded doesn’t matter. Nobody wants to be told they have no reason to feel a certain way, and you have no right to dismiss anybody’s feelings just because you think their concerns might not be legitimate. Acknowledging where the other side is coming from is key to assessing and resolving the situation successfully.

You would be surprised how quickly people change their angry tone when you reply in an understanding and friendly manner. A little bit of empathy can shift the situation for your brand from negative into a positive one.

 

  1. Apologize & Compensate (if possible)

I’m not an advocate of apologizing for apologizing sake. If there’s a mess up on your side, admit to it, apologize and compensate. However, if your customer is angry because of something he/she misread or because they had different expectations, move to step No.4.

 

  1. Be Transparent

Explain the situation to them. If there’s a reason why something happened, explain it. If it’s something they have misunderstood, point them in the right direction – but always in a polite and friendly manner. When managing your community, you might be asked the very same questions over thousand times and while the answer might be blatantly obvious (or so you might think), answering in a polite, helpful and personal (no cookie-cutter responses) is key.

 

  1. Have balls

Don’t be afraid to stand by your brand values. Nobody respects a brand (or a person) who is too afraid to speak up for what they believe in, in fear of negative comments. Adidas’ response to homophobic comments demonstrates exactly how much positivity can clever and respectful responses to clearly negative comments make.

 

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