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Digital Age Etiquette: How To Handle Negative Comments Online

Indisputably, the Internet has opened a world of opportunities for organisations and businesses. That’s the upside. But the corporate embrace of social networks across Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums also presents viral possibilities to negative forces – disgruntled customers, whingers and people who are difficult for the sake of it.

Companies and brands that enjoy the upside of social media, more than likely are struggling with the downside of negative comments, gibes and the outpourings of cantankerous individuals, which may inflame passions worldwide.

The Urban Dictionary has classified the proliferating new generation of Internet critics as “trolls” – those who typically unleash “cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent bystander, because it’s the Internet and, hey, you can.”

In this new media era, when corporations are vulnerable to the virally contagious effects of Facebook or LinkedIn “like” buttons or the “retweet”, the challenge to businesses is learning how to separate trolls from true complainants and finding ways to handle inflammatory commentary with a cool head.

Companies may be damned if they ignore the moaning of difficult “customers” and damned they get drawn into argument with them. An increasingly valued skill is the ability to handle a complaint without aggravating a situation.


7 Tips For Keeping The Trolls At Bay

1. Do your research. Check to see if the commenter has a track record for complaining. Or, do they have an axe to grind?

2. Follow the 24-hour rule. The quicker a negative is resolved the better.

3. Remember everything is permanent (sometimes even if you delete comments). It is unlikely you’ll get legitimate negative comments taken down by websites.

4. Answer publicly as that stays as a permanent record in web searches.

5. Talk like a human rather than a corporate spokesperson, but don’t be too informal.

6. Don’t make light of anybody’s predicament.

7. Don’t feed the trolls.

By Knowledge@ASB


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