Regardless of whether you are representing yourself, an agency, a company, a non-profit, or a campaign online, you will most likely encounter negative digital feedback. While you cannot control what the world puts in front of you, you can control how you respond. In fact, how you do so might say more about your character than when you are just humming along. Below are some examples and tips for Facebook and Twitter, but they also apply to other social media networks:
1. When you read content directed at you that immediately raises your inner flag (i.e. it is negative), simply re-read it. Avoid jumping to unnecessary conclusions too early.
2. After you read it the second time, if it is in fact, negative, or unproductively critical, take a deep breath, step away from it for a few minutes, and then respond. No impulsive, angry thrashing out! Keep your cool.
3. If the person appears to be legitimate (see point C below), calmly analyze the tweet and respond in a constructive, non-threatening manner. If the person continues to engage (as long as it is not profane or otherwise abusive), continue to briefly interact with them until they give up.
Posts to block:
A. Those containing profane language
B. Those attacking anyone personally
C. Those that appear to be a spam account (can usually tell by the content of their tweets, 0 or < 10 followers, no profile image)
D. Anything else that appears to be completely inappropriate
Follow the same three steps as above. Also, consider adding a Facebook policy to your page. Here is an example:
Sample Member Conduct Policy
[Name of organization] on Facebook is moderated. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, [Name of organization] expects that participants will treat each other with respect. [Name of organization] on Facebook will not post comments that contain vulgar or abusive language; personal attacks of any kind; or offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups. [Name of organization] on Facebook will not post comments that are spam, are clearly “off topic” or that promote services or products. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also be subject to review.
Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other nongovernmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using [Name of organization] on Facebook.
Here is a summary of the guidelines we abide by:
The use of vulgar, offensive, threatening or harassing language is prohibited. Public comments should be limited to comments related to the topic. [Name of organization] on Facebook is not the proper place to express opinions or beliefs not directly related to that topic.
[Name of organization] on Facebook is not open to comments promoting or opposing any person campaigning for election to a political office or promoting or opposing any ballot proposition. [Name of organization] on Facebook is not open to the promotion or advertisement of a business or commercial transaction.
Have you dealt with negative feedback on Facebook or Twitter? How about in comments on your organization’s blog? How do you deal with this?