Sadly sometimes it’s inevitable that from time to time, customers will have a small gripe with your company, and if you have a social media presence it can often result in people becoming rude or abusive on your online platforms. 6150105185_2568db7c99_b In order to try and contain or extinguish these figurative fires you need to approach the situation in the right manner to prevent customer dissatisfaction and this negativity.

Facebook Settings – Before you start When first starting your Facebook page it’s always worth familiarising yourself with the page settings which are accessible to a page admin. To start, you have the option of whether you want to enable users to post on your wall, via the ‘posting ability‘ function. Using this setting can restrict users in a way which only allows them to reply to your posts, rather than them being able to make their own posts directly on the page’s timeline. This can reduce a page being filled with nasty negative posts and your great content being lost. Another easy way to filter out the abusive comments from positive ones is through use of the ‘profanity setting’. This will automatically block posts with profanity in accordance with the settings you set from none to strong. Of course there will be words with negative tones created by users to skirt your guidelines, meaning there will be insults which your computer and the vast majority of the public won’t understand or even dream of. It is also an American filter so it sometimes doesn’t understand UK curse words. If you need any extra help use a swear word generator to really maximise your creativity but no laughing at the words please!  As a fail safe, on the off chance the profanity setting is unable to block certain words, there is a setting which allows you to immediately block comments which use the words of your choice, labelled ‘moderation blocklist‘. Whilst this might be one of the more time consuming ways to moderate posts, it is arguably the most effective.

Laying Down Your Facebook Page Ground Rules

It is important to set out your page rules beforehand rather than add them later when you are experiencing difficult or angry customers. The creation of some house rules will give you the basis to act and will hopefully prevent trollish abuse or the advertising/promotion of other sites of your page. Remember, social media is in the public domain and therefore all outward facing, so taking the time to prevent bad practice is much easier than panicking and having to react when the worst occurs. Here are the types of things to consider when writing your own house rules:

  1. Clarity and politeness is key – lay out your rules but show you have the customer’s interests at heart, whilst also encouraging discussion e.g. saying you will remove abusive comments ‘so you can quickly and efficiently help people in need’.
  2. Keep the focus on you – people will either reference other companies or post links to external sources. While these comments might not be abusive, they restrict focus on you. Your own page is about self-promotion meaning comments promoting outside organisations should be removed and followed up with a private explanation on why you have removed the comment.
  3. Give contact details – people will have genuine queries that need to be addressed, some of which are difficult to solve over social media. To prevent frustration display a contact number or email to customer support.
  4. Deleting chain comments – some comments might have to be deleted even though they aren’t abusive as they’re chained to a comment which needs to be removed. Highlight the possibility of this situation and in event of it happening, apologise and explain the situation.
  5. No tolerances for spam – both customer and provider have little patience with spam. Remove the posts and notify the user that you won’t tolerate it.
  6. Exercise your right to delete comments and block users – while it shouldn’t be your first port of call, make it clear you are within your right to remove posts or people from your page. Only use when other avenues have been exhausted.
  7. Outline protection for others – if users leave comments containing their contact details delete the comment for the safety of the consumer and contact them privately to help them. Outline a zero tolerance of bullying to protect yourself and your consumer’s interests.

An example being the BBC’s blog house rules: bbc house rules Replying to people’s Facebook Comments Now your Facebook page is set out, don’t be scared you maybe at the mercy of the public, some of whom will be looking to bombard you with complaints but the reality is often far less sinister. Whilst it may be frustrating to get complaints or negative feedback, the trick is to grit your teeth and bare each comment no matter the how irritating or daft the comments may be. Replying to each comment in a polite and helpful manner is the only way you will reap the rewards from your social media page. Never get involved in an argument.  Tesco’s four pint milk might be a puzzle to pour for the minority of the public, but the post above is dealt with in a polite and helpful manner of which (so far) hasn’t resulted in a customer backlash. Deleting comments should be your last option. If the user is repeatedly abusive and ignoring your help, then it might be time to delete their comments and possibly block the individual if no progress is being made as it can cause distress and annoyance to your other page fans. Be careful when deleting comments however, no one likes to be ignored and if a user realises their comment has been deleted they could come back bitter, possibly trying to confront you on the subject (even if it’s clearly obvious why you have done so). If the user persists to leave negative comments despite you sorting their problem and this is causing trouble regularly. This is when its probably best to block that particular user, before any more disruption is caused. Think about containment, if you’ve got an isolated problem with a user, who isn’t being responsive or constructive, cut them out of the picture so you can focus on constructive criticism and keep the attention on your brand and what your trying to do. All of this can seem rather scary but here at Prohibition we manage pages of all shapes and sizes and some get genuine negative customer service enquiries and some get none. However, if you try to help people and be transparent with your replies and take the antagonists offline this will often result in a far happier Facebook community that continues to thrive. If you are really interested in how to contain an online crisis you can also read our MD’s latest article on E-consultancy entitled: 22 tips to help contain an online crisis. Image used under creative commons, courtesy of CALI.  

About Ross Monks

Leeds Trinity Student studying Journalism.

From London, live in Leeds.

Have a key interest and enjoy writing about politics, psychology, history and sports