Social Media Moderation: How to handle negative comments

A social media moderator’s responsibilities include maintaining an organization’s standards on its social media pages, as well as fostering an environment that is beneficial for both the organization and the organization’s followers.

If you remain transparent with your followers, you open yourself up to taking some criticism. Even if the comment is indecent or obscene, it’s important that you don’t react in anger. If a comment should cross the line, it’s in your duties to delete that comment. If a comment criticizes your organization, you have the opportunity to address the user’s concerns and maintain your organization’s reputation, but it’s still important that you are respectful to all users who follow your pages.

Below are two fictional examples of social media comments that criticize different organizations, as well as how I would ethically respond to such comments.

Comment:

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

Response:

“Hi (commenter’s name). We’re so sorry to hear about your experience at our restaurant. I assure you this is not the standard that we hope to meet. If you wouldn’t mind, could you private message us your contact information? We would like to get more information about your experience and make sure that something like this never happens again. We appreciate your business and want to make this situation right. Thanks for sharing your experience!”

Comment:

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

Response:

Because this commenter used obscene language, I would delete this comment from my organization’s social media pages. I would send the commenter a message notifying them that their comment was deleted, and I would explain why their comment wasn’t allowed. If the commenter hadn’t used the obscene language, this is how I would reply:

“Hi (commenter’s name). We’re sorry to hear about your frustrations. We strive to have balanced reporting, and we always want to hear both sides of a story. If you watch/read (link to article/video), you’ll see that we talked to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Thanks for sharing your feedback, it’s passionate people like you, that ensure our reporters are doing their job right!”

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4 thoughts on “Social Media Moderation: How to handle negative comments

  1. Justin says:

    I would say be careful not to accept the complaint is right (although we’re told the customer is always right!!) in your response i.e. “We would…make sure that something like this never happens again.” Maybe phrasing it something like this… “We take your complaint very seriously and we want to speak to you to look into it as soon as possible…” I LOVE the last line in your news response. Thanks a lot.

  2. I love love love what you said here: “If a comment should cross the line, it’s in your duties to delete that comment. If a comment criticizes your organization, you have the opportunity to address the user’s concerns and maintain your organization’s reputation.” I think that is the PERFECT explanation of moderation. Do what’s best for your followers, but also use it as an opportunity to make improvements. Two thumbs up on that one.

    I also really like your comment about upholding standards for the restaurant. Thanking them for their comments, even when unsavory, seems very wise as well. I initially thought of deleting the second post as well, but worried it would cause a backlash. Especially since messaging users on Facebook winds up in the ‘other’ mailbox and more often than not, people don’t see it. I would maybe respond to the comment with what you said above, and then delete it. That way they would still get the notification. That would work, right? It’s something I just thought of. Acknowledging but still moderating?

    I agree with Justin as well- great move with the last line.

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