Early this morning, I woke up to find a particularly unnerving negative comment posted on a client’s Facebook page. It seemed like a sign to address this particular topic on my blog, so here goes.

If you have a social media presence, you’re going to get negative feedback. Nothing you can do will insulate you from the wrath of those who have a legitimate beef with your organization, or the “haters” who simply want to stir up trouble.

If you haven’t already done so, take thirty minutes today to gather your staff and put a plan in place to deal with negative online comments. Write the plan down, and distribute it to everyone in your organization who has a hand in social media management. Dealing with negative online feedback is a form of “crisis public relations” and should be codified, handled consistently, and reviewed annually.

The plan needn’t address every possible situation that could occur on social media, but it should address the most broad categories of negative feedback. Here are a few items your plan might include, and possible responses to them.

Threats: If a user makes an overt threat to the organization or any of its constituents, the social media manager: will not respond to the message, will save the message as a screen capture, delete the message, then block the user from the site. User names and screencaps of threatening messages will be logged and filed by [staff member].

Hate Speech: If a user makes overtly racist, homophobic, misogynist comments, the social media manage will delete the offensive comment. Users will not be blocked from the site unless the problem continues.

Falsehoods: If a user states something patently false (“Your organization stole my credit card information!”), the social media manager will respond to correct the misinformation, and the comment will remain on the site.

Negative feedback: If a user makes a complaint about the organization, the social media manager will respond to the complaint and the comment will remain on the site.

Sometimes, “negative” online feedback can be positive. It can alert your staff to potential problems or misunderstandings. More importantly, it can embolden your satisfied constituents to defend your organization online, and advocate on your behalf.

Does your organization have a plan for managing negative online feedback? Share it with our readers!