How to Handle Social Media Bullying and Negative Comments
We generally think of social media bullying as something that affects individuals, especially younger people. However, business cyberbullying is absolutely a thing. Online “trolls” may attack a company for a number of reasons. For example, they think it's funny, they had a negative experience, or they have been hired by a competitor. Regardless of the reason, cyberbullying can be a problem for businesses of all sizes. That’s why it’s important to learn how to handle social media bullying for the benefit of your business and your customers.
Let’s take a deeper dive…
What Problems Does Business Cyberbullying Cause?
Business cyberbullying can do a lot of damage to your brand. The attackers are generally not random kids but people who know exactly what they are doing. Cyberbullies can damage your brand by…
● Posting false and malicious reviews
● Making false claims of injuries and damage caused by your product
● Stalking you or your employees
● Harassing you, your employees, or even your customers on social media
● Posting racist or other bigoted comments on your social media, forcing you to deal with them as a moderator
● Hijacking or hacking your website or social media accounts
The list goes on. In some cases, cyberbullies may have a legitimate grievance, but it gets blown out of proportion. It's fairly common for cyberbullies to trigger an internet mob that comes after your business, possibly thinking they have a good reason.
Because of the problems it can cause your business, it’s crucial you understand how to handle social media bullying the right way.
Practical Tips for How to Handle Social Media Bullying
It’s worth noting that rants and complaints on social media are a cost of doing business. None of us are perfect and all it takes is upsetting one wrong person to find yourself facing a torrent of toxicity and issues.
You need to plan for the inevitable, which means you need to make cyberbullying prevention and damage control part of your social media strategy from the start. While your precise strategy might vary depending on your size, industry, and even location, here are a few tips that help most businesses…
- Never Delete Your Posts (Unless Proven Inaccurate)
First things first: You shouldn’t delete your content unless proven inaccurate, in which case we always recommend fact-checking any posts before posting.
You can delete comments people have made if they are not desirable. Or some companies choose to leave certain ones and publicly reply by asking the poster to private message or send an email so that the situation can be further explored and rectified. You should always look into allegations or negative experiences that people may share online.
- Take a Proactive Approach
One of the best ways for how to handle social media bullying is to drown out the bad noise. Solicit positive comments from your customers, politely ask for reviews, etc. If you have a lot of good reviews, the one or two bad ones will stand out in a way that is not good for the people posting them. Troll reviews often help this cause by saying stuff that is blatantly contradicted by other reviews.
However, DON’T be tempted to fake positive comments or reviews. They tend to come out in time, as people can see through them easily.
If you provide good customer service, though, you will naturally get good reviews and might even get customers to go to bat for you when a cyberbully does show up.
- Monitor Properly
Monitoring social networking sites and communities regularly is a key aspect of how to handle social media bullying and negative comments. Google your own business at intervals to look and see what is being said about you. Additionally, you can use Google or a CRM tool to monitor and reply to any reviews posted on any reviewing platform.
And be sure to reply to all comments, positive and negative. If people see that you are working proactively to help those who had a negative experience, they are more likely to give you a chance.
Monitoring regularly will allow you to spot social bullying as it occurs and take appropriate action, such as blocking those using foul language or posting inappropriate comments. Also, this will let you see the good things being said about your business.
- Identify and Act
Not everyone sets out to be a cyberbully. Sometimes incidents start with one person with a legitimate grievance, such as not receiving a product as described, who goes to social media rather than contacting the company. (Or, worse, they did contact you but you didn’t respond…) This is often triggered by experiences with other companies that indicate a Twitter @mention gets a faster response than an email.
Providing good customer service can help reduce such occurrences. But identifying the individuals concerned, by mapping their social IDs to their past transactions, can help you approach the aggrieved person and offer a better solution than ranting on social media. This allows you to take the issue privately, and if you are able to resolve it, they will often call off the dogs, as it were.
- Don't Strike Back
Before learning how to handle social media bullying the right way, it can be very tempting to toss a verbal snapback or snark at the bully. But this often creates fuel for the fire. And as far as ignoring them, you want to take any allegations seriously and explore them and see what happened. Blocking is always an option, although experienced trolls will simply create multiple accounts.
If the post violates social media policies, especially if it includes a threat, don't be afraid to report the post to the platform admin. That said, don’t respond to a post that you have reported.
When it comes to malicious reviews, if they are blatantly false or reviewing things that aren't relevant, you can at least try and report them, although this tends to be less than successful. Many review sites won't remove reviews at the business's request because too many businesses will report every negative review. If you are lucky, a customer will see the bad review and report it.
Resist the temptation to reply to fake reviews. Do, however, reply with an apology to bad reviews that are genuine, as customers will see how you react to and resolve the situation, which can reduce the weight of the bad review.
- Accept That it Happens
Finally, there is absolutely no way to prevent cyberbullying from happening. By providing good customer service and a good product, using block and report tools when necessary, and not putting fuel on the fire, you can reduce it. But the fact remains that it will happen. There have been trolling incidents that had nothing to do with the business. Joke reviews can sometimes be beneficial to a business, but they can be an awful problem.
You have to accept that sometimes you will get a malicious review or a horrible comment on social media and let it go, focusing instead on the positive.
The victims of cyberbullying aren’t just individuals; they’re businesses too. And if you want to reduce the impact of cyberbullying on your business, you need to take the right approach by…
- Never deleting your posts (unless proven inaccurate)
- Taking a proactive approach
- Monitoring properly
- Identifying and acting
- Not striking back
- Accepting that it happens
If you are working on how to handle social media bullying and developing your social media strategy, then Viral Solutions can help. Reach out to us for advice on dealing with social media bullying, negative reviews, and all aspects of social media management.