Every Social Media Manager’s Worst Nightmare

dflaWe’ve all been to a restaurant before that left us wanting more. The lack of service, atmosphere, or good food can lead to a less than desirable experience. What do you do when this happens to you? Below you will find a hypothetical situation of an individual taking to social media to express their disgust and what I would do to address it.

“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.”

Ouch…this is a harsh comment. From a business standpoint I would want to take this down, but sometimes leaving these comments up and responding publicly to them can show the audience that you care about each customer. I would comment on this post by saying “Hi there, Thank you for letting us know the conditions of our store. We are very sorry to hear about your experience. Please send us a direct message giving us more details and we will address the issues you have mentioned. Thank you, Alexis.”

Once I have left my comment I know there will be more left on this post. I have seen so many Twitter rants and Facebook comments go off topic and turn into other users fighting. I do not want that to happen on this post. I want it to be an example of what my company is doing to improve our services. I would let the conversation play out but as soon as obscene language or hate speech came into play I would jump back in the post and let user’s know we do not condone this type of behavior. It is one thing for people to say they agree with the disgruntled customer but to throw this type of language into a post services no purpose.

From one extreme to another, I’ve worked in television for about five years. During my reporting days I was taught to always report fair and balanced to avoid situations like this:

“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.”

Wow, another  social media attack. This one seems a little harder to address considering the racial issues this viewer has. I would first respond to the comment by leaving one saying “Hi, we are sorry to hear you did not like our story last night. Our goal is to provide our viewers with fair and balanced stories. Please contact by direct message so we can work at providing you with a better story next time. Thank you.”

In our lecture it was noted not to respond in anger. As a reporter it would be hard for me not, considering we know the story was unbiased and accurate. I also believe user’s should not respond in anger so once I let the viewer know I saw this comment I would remove it from our page. Using obscene language is unnecessary and unprofessional. I do not want our viewers to be subjected to this.

How would you react to these situations?

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12 thoughts on “Every Social Media Manager’s Worst Nightmare

  1. Although those comments are harsh, I don’t like taking posts down. If you think about it, someone probably has seen it also and it will show weakness if you don’t try to resolve problems. These are extreme situations for sure, there has to be some good judgement when replying to these people. Like you said, sometimes it’s hard to not respond in anger, but when you think about it, it doesn’t really help anything. I think showing control is important and owning whatever problem arises.
    Great Post!

  2. Thanks for sharing Alexis! I agree that it is hard to take a post down because if someone else has already seen it, they might think you are “censoring” these opinions. One thing I did different in the first example that actually validates the complaint a little more without directly saying the customer was correct was to say something to the effect of “this certainly does not sound like our usual high standards of cleanliness, can you please private message me more.” By establishing the fact that there are standards, it allows us to save a little more face in my opinion. Then again, I wouldn’t want to add too much because moderation and all…..
    The second scenario was just tricky no matter how you look at it. In my post, I acknowledged the fact that the Middle East is a complicated issue no matter how balanced you try to be and actually encouraged the person to share their passion on the subject with their state representative in addition to our station. I also mentioned a producer’s name that I would forward the complaint to so that they “may keep it in mind for future broadcasts.” I thought this sounded pretty reasonable without having to commit to any specific corrective action. Either way, a tough situation to respond to. Great post!

    • Hi,

      I really like the way you handled the first situation! You are right…by establishing your core values in the resposne it lets the audience know what you stand for! Goog strategy.

  3. Hi Alexis,

    I understand the wanting to take the fast food post down (it’s embarrassing for the brand, and harsh!) but you really can’t; if you do, you’ll get called out on it for sure. I would add just two words to your response to say, “Thank you for letting us know the conditions you experienced in our store.” That way, you’re basically saying that it’s all about perception, until you get all the facts.

    I think of the several responses I’ve read, you have been the kindest about the news comment! I didn’t see anyone else apologize, so far. My guess is the person wouldn’t even bother to send a direct message with their constructive feedback, because I think they were just trying to rattle you in the first place.

    Nice post!

    • Hi Lexi,

      It was a hard decision to take the comment down regarding the newscast. While I could get called out on I think reading the IOC’s guidelines and seeing that they do not have a problem taking down posts gave me more confidence in this decision. I just want to create a positive environment for my audience! Thanks for your feedback!

  4. Hi Alexis,
    I responded in pretty much the same way as you to both scenarios. I (slightly) apologized in the fast food comment, as I didn’t want to over-apologize because I don’t know all the circumstances behind what happened. Perhaps the restaurant just had a busload of customers come through before that customer had arrived, or maybe the customer was simply making it all up. The second step you said to take is one I totally agree with – get that customer offline to solve the issue. For the comment on the newscast, I wouldn’t apologize, especially if it is known that the broadcast covered both sides. All I did in my response is thank this person for their comments and told them we would pass them along to news managers. From there, the managers can discuss coverage decisions with this viewer if they choose to. But I do agree with you that it is important to hide that comment, as profanity does not have any place on a news organization’s Facebook page.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad someone else thought it necessary to remove the profanity comment as well. In this instance I thought saying “sorry” (although not very sincere) would help calm the disgruntled consumer down. I can see not saying sorry though…especially since we know we are right in this situation.

  5. I try to avoid removing posts because that seems to incite more anger and backlash than anything else. I like your first response because I think it’s important to acknowledge the complaint and show that you are willing to accept bad feedback, investigate, and make positive changes. It may snowball into more negative comments, so it would be important to keep an eye on the thread and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

    As for the second one, that is a much trickier situation. I hate it when people come on to pages and use foul language. Not okay! In those instances, I desperately wish that we could censor rather than remove. I know there are ethical implications all their own in that, as making edits to anyone else’s posts could be taken too far, but all we would need is to change that word to asterisks! Maybe in the future, Facebook will provide for that. Your response was like a pat on the head- ‘okay, we hear you. I know you’re mad. You can yell at me over here for a while if it’ll make you feel better.’ And that is certainly a good move. I struggled to find a way to take it to the next step and well, basically, prove them wrong, but that is NOT easy and probably not worth it.

    • Hello,

      I wish there was a way we could censor comments on social media too because I certainly would have done this rather than remove it. I just want a professional and positive environment for my audience, profanity does not help encourage this. It was a hard decision to take the comment down but one I stand behind!

  6. I think you are right to respond to the fast food complaint and relate but don’t accept liability until you’ve checked the complaint out. Re Mid East, check the Week 6 Assignment strand on Sakai after you answer to see how this was handled in real life!

    • Hi Justin,

      I just read how the BBC responded to this consumer and I think they have the right mindset. Maybe moving forward I will try to establish the same mindset, that as long as people are using curse words to express themselves and not in a threatening manner they can stay on my page. Thanks for a very interesting/hard situation to respond to! =)

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