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!”

Social Media Moderation

social media moderationIf your brand has a presence on social media networks, you are most likely going to get a fair share of feedback, both positive and negative. If you’re in charge of monitoring the brand’s social pages, it’s your job to moderate the conversations, and determine if a comment is out of line and needs to be removed from the site. As easy as it would be to delete any criticism of the brand, you have to maintain a transparency with customers so they continue to trust and follow the brand.

A social media manager’s job can be made easier with moderating policies or guidelines. Unfortunately, not every brand (including my own) has such a policy in place. It’s left to my discretion to choose how to respond to customers’ comments. Fortunately, I have yet to run into any major problems. The only time I have ever deleted a post, was when it was spam. The rest of the posts I leave out there for the world to see. I “like” and acknowledge on the praises on Facebook, answer any questions a customer may post, and try to help customers who may have some discrepancy with the brand or its social media.

Before you post or moderate any social pages, you have to be aware of the norms and behaviors of each different network. You most likely wouldn’t share the content that you post on LinkedIn, with your Facebook followers. While that is an obvious example, there are plenty of other examples out there. There are general norms of each network, but how a company approaches those networks, is going to differ from each different brand or person.

In my personal experience and usage, I share more personal posts and articles with my Facebook community. My Facebook followers are made up of mainly family and friends, so I have a level of comfort when posting on the network. I don’t think as much or worry how I’m going to be perceived because my followers all know me pretty well.

More professionals and colleagues follow me on Twitter, so it’s a completely different vibe. It’s a way more casual version of LinkedIn. I try to share professionally-related content, but I do it in a more fun, and trendier way. I love a good hashtag! I use more abbreviations or jargon because Twitter only allows so many characters. I also allow more of my humor and personality to shine on Twitter.

I view both Instagram and Pinterest in the same light in terms of how I moderate my pages. Both networks allow me to post more creatively. I think brands have the same advantage when using these networks (at least if they’re using them correctly!). These networks allow a brand or individual to reflect who they are or who they want to be. For brands that are struggling to bridge the gap between being professional and human, these networks could help you accomplish that.

Online Reputation Management: Listening May Have Prevented United Crisis

When Canadian singer Dave Carroll boarded a United Airlines flight, he faced a musician’s worst nightmare: Baggage handlers broke his Taylor acoustic guitar. After a year of failed attempts of trying to get some compensation from United, Carroll used his singing skills to finally get noticed. Carroll’s YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars” has received over 14 million views, and its immense popularity created a crisis situation for United Airlines. Today, many online reputation managers use “United Breaks Guitars” as a case study for how a brand should respond in a similar situation.

If I were United’s Online Reputation Manager and Carroll had reached out to me via social media, I would have responded to his complaint immediately. A timely and compassionate response can often turn the tide in a social media complaint. Many times customers just want to feel like they have been acknowledged, so a response could prevent a complaint from turning into a full-blown crisis. It’s important to have a time frame for social media responses in place. It maybe different for every company, but for an airline, I would expect a customer to have a response within a couple hours of making a complaint or inquiry.

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Even if Carroll had taken to other methods of communication and I was unaware of his complaint until the YouTube video was produced, I would have used social media listening tools (Google Alerts) so I would have known that a complaint was out there. Once again, if United had been listening and responded to the video in a timely fashion, some of the backlash may have been avoided.

If I wasn’t using social listening tools and was completely blindsided by Carroll’s video, then I would go into crisis management mode. I would start by releasing a press release apologizing to Carroll that his complaint hadn’t been resolved. I would iterate that his experience with United was not the typical customer experience and it wasn’t the standard of customer satisfaction that United hoped to achieve. I would then assure Carroll and all other customers that their satisfaction was important to the United brand, and the brand would do everything in its power to rectify the situation. I would share a link to the press release on all of United’s social media pages.

After releasing the press release, I would create a YouTube video in response to Carroll’s video. Once again, I would apologize for his negative experience and say that it’s not the typical United experience. A simple apology and acknowledging mistakes can make a brand appear more human, and can prevent fallout from a crisis scenario. I would also highlight what the brand strives to provide in terms of customer experience to put a positive light back on the brand. Finally, I would let Carroll and all other customers know how we planned to rectify the situation. This transparency goes a long ways with customers.

Great customer service doesn’t stop after the initial response. I would check in with Carroll via social media to make sure the situation had been resolved. These continued interactions show your customers that their service and happiness really is important to the brand. Had United followed these steps, some of the crisis fallout could have been avoided.

Online Reputation Management

social media, online reputationEvery social media user and brand has an online reputation, and social media has amplified the importance of reputation management. If a customer has a negative experience, they can take to social media and share that experience with all of their followers. One negative experience can go viral in seconds.

The best way to manage that reputation is by listening and engaging. You have to be aware of what people are saying about you or your brand on social media. When a customer does complain, a swift and personally tailored response can prevent a single complaint from turning into a full-throttle crisis. A lot of times customers just want to feel like they’ve been heard. The few times I’ve taken to social media to complain about a brand or service, I have just wanted to be acknowledged and feel like the brand values me as a customer. When those brands didn’t bother to respond, they have lost me as a customer.

Two customers who have taken to social media to vent about negative experiences are Dave Carroll (above), who created a video after United Airlines broke his guitar, and Hasan Syed, who promoted a tweet about British Airways’ bad customer service (below). It must be a rough job working in customer service for an airline!

Online reputation, social media, British Airways, promoted tweet

I’m not sure that I would do the same things that these men did to be heard (mainly from a lack of talent and lack of money!), but I think their actions were justified and ethical. They had negative experiences, and they didn’t want those experiences to be ignored. Maybe they hoped their actions would prevent other people from having those same negative experiences, so as a customer, I thank them.

After British Airways and United Airways’ failures were spotlighted on social media, there were several steps they should have taken to appease these men and safeguard their reputations. They should have responded quickly (it may have prevented some of the backlash) and immediately apologized. In their apology they should have iterated that this isn’t the typical experience with the brand or the standard that the brand hopes to achieve. Finally, after getting the full story from the men, the airlines should have offered some sort of compensation if it was justified, and with the broken guitar, I think it was.

By quickly responding and not trying to hide mistakes, a brand can turn a potential crisis into a positive situation. They can prove that they’re human and make mistakes, but they do care about their customers’ experiences.

Nike Running: Using Social Media to Manage Customer Relationships

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, FacebookAn abundance of people take to social media every day to share the experiences that they have with brands, products, and customer service departments. While it’s easy to find plenty of companies that aren’t utilizing social media correctly and learn what not to do, I thought that I would highlight a brand that’s doing it right. Nike Running uses social media to really engage in customer conversations and manage customer relationships online.

One of the reason I chose Nike Running is because I come from a long line of runners; My grandpa was a very successful cross-country and track and field coach, my dad was a successful runner, and since “retiring” from college soccer, I’ve learned to love challenging myself to run farther and faster. That being said, I’m not a huge proponent of Nike running shoes. They just don’t work for my body and foot type. I may not love their shoes, but the work that Nike Running does on social media is noteworthy for any aspiring social media professional.

What Nike Running does right:

1. They don’t constantly try to sell with their content

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Although I don’t work for Nike Running, I think it’s safe to assume that the brand’s target audience is runners (duh!). The brand could easily post about all of their different running products, but that wouldn’t be engaging for their customers. Instead, Nike Running posts inspiring and informative content that is of interest to the running community.

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

For instance, on May 31, Nike Running tweeted that Hellen Obiri broke the Prefontaine Classic 1500 meter record with the world’s fastest time this year (above). This information is obviously pertinent to Nike Running’s followers, and sharing it gives the brand more authority in the running world.

Nike Running’s Twitter feed also informed followers that the Prefontaine Classic was underway and let them know where they could tune in to watch. By not pushing their product or agenda, Nike Running becomes trustworthy, and more runners will turn to the brand when they have questions, or will purchase from the brand when they’re searching for running gear in the future.

2. They listen and engage their followers

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Customers want to be heard, and this is where Nike Running’s social media efforts really stand out. The company has over 428,000 followers on Twitter and 2.5 million likes on Facebook, and still they take the time to engage with their customers. As a consumer, it’s flattering that such a popular brand would take the time to respond to me. Their responses and engagement show customers that they’re important.

Recently one customer reached out to Nike Running and asked how he could increase his stamina. With the abundance of comments and likes that Nike Running gets, they could have easily ignored the question, but instead they asked if the customer was training for a race or running for overall fitness. Once they customer responded, they sent him to a link where he could get the answers he was searching for. They went above and beyond to really get to know their follower.

3. They use a relatable and inspiring voice

Nike Running, social media, Twitter, CRM, Facebook

Many runners turn to Nike Running for tips and advice. Instead of using a patronizing or superior tone, Nike Running uses a voice of a brand that intends to inspire. The company recently tweeted, “We’ve come this far. Now let’s take things further. Push each other.” As runners, we all have those days that are a struggle. The Nike Running brand becomes more human and relatable by recognizing the struggles, and encouraging its social media followers to push through on the rough days.

Finding your social media voice

social media voiceSocial media presents brands with an opportunity to reach out and engage with consumers like they have never been able to do before, but it also presents a set of challenges. Like KLM said, the “downside of facilitating an open dialogue on social media, is that you also invite public criticism.” One way a brand can ease the challenges of social media transparency, is creating relationships with followers and customers on social media.

If you’re going to form relationships with customers on social media, you have to utilize a human voice. People don’t want to talk to a logo or robot on social media, they want to engage with an actual human being. We’ve learned this over and over again but I think it’s important to reiterate because too many brands are doing this wrong, social media is not about selling your products or services, it’s about listening and being a part of conversations surrounding your brand and your industry.

When I post content to my company’s social media pages, I imagine as though I’m talking to one of my friends or my mom. My company sells beautiful jewelry, but the designer and the brand is fun and creative, so I try to maintain a tone that reflects those aspects of the brand. This perspective helps me keep my messages conversational, as opposed to sounding strictly like I’m marketing. I hope that this tone attracts the type of consumers that we want to target!

As I’ve said a million times before (and I’ll probably say a million more times!), social media is not a one-way street. Having a tone that reflects your brand is not enough, you have to actually engage with your customers. If a customer posts on our Facebook page, I try to respond immediately. Of course, as work gets hectic or if I’m not on the clock, they may not get an immediate response, but I try to get them an answer within 24 hours. It is more challenging because I’m the sole representative for the brand on social media, but I do the best I can to help our customers and let them know that they’ve been heard.

When I’ve taken to social media to praise or criticize a company, a response from that company goes a long way in ensuring that I’ll continue to use that brand. If I’m mentioning a brand online, a response shows that not only are they listening, but that they care about my opinion, and it’s always nice to feel important!

Victoria’s Secret – A brand in which I trust

Picture 1It takes a lot to earn my trust “in real life,” and even longer to gain my trust online. I interact with more individuals than brands on social media because many brands don’t know how to do social media right. I don’t want to follow a brand that constantly tries to sell on social media, and it’s obvious when a brand is posting scheduled, automated messages. I want to connect with the people behind the brand. If a brand engages with me, it goes a long way in earning my trust, and ultimately turning me into a brand advocate. One brand that has done that for me, is Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria’s Secret is constantly posting and keeping their social media pages up-to-date, which demonstrates their authority in beauty, lingerie, swimwear, and fashion for women. The brand’s massive amount of followers on each of their social media pages also proves their authority in the industry. Why wouldn’t I trust a brand that the majority of my friends like or follow on social media?

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When customers complain on the various Victoria’s Secret’s social platforms, the brand addresses their complaints in a timely fashion. This transparency is helpful, shows a human side to the brand, and it proves that the brand actually cares about their customers.

Recently, a customer wrote that he bought a gift for his wife, and they forgot to take the security tag off (right). When he went back to the store, the manager told him he had to wait in a long line to have the tag taken off. I’m sure with the amount of social media followers Victoria’s Secret has, they could have easily ignored this customer an it wouldn’t have been noticed. Instead, the brand apologized to the customer and asked him to send a private message with the stores location so they could properly address the problem.

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While I appreciate Victoria’s Secret’s responses to complaints, what really sets the brand apart for me is their engagement with consumers. It’s amazing to see how many customers they have conversations with on Twitter (right). This proves that the brand cares more about the customer and their experience, than making a sale. The feeling of having an actual two-way relationship with Victoria’s Secret on social media helps me to trust the brand even more.

You may question why brand trust is so important. Because I trust and feel as though I have a relationship with Victoria’s Secret, I’m more likely to tune into what they’re posting on social sites. This is critical because customers are so inundated with advertising clutter. Also because the brand has earned my trust, I’m more likely to engage and share what they’re posting on social media. Their social media behavior has turned me into a brand advocate and free advertising is rarely a bad thing! Lastly (and what some would say is most important), because I trust the brand, when I’m in the market for a swimsuit, underwear, or perfume, they’re the brand that I will turn to. Victoria’s Secret’s products and social media always keep me coming back for more!