Responding to Negative Posts on Social Media

An active social media presence promotes communication between Vocational Rehabilitation and consumers and can be a valuable information-sharing tool.  Before your agency establishes an online presence, however, consider and plan for responding to negative posts on your social media accounts.  The following suggestions were taken from VR policies and online experts.

Develop Guidelines

  • Develop a clear direction on when your agency should remove a negative post. Share user guidelines and expectations for online behavior on each platform.  This will allow you to refer users to your standards when moderation is needed.
  • Set a goal for response time. Will responses be posted in 4 hours? 12 hours?  24 hours? Decide if social media platforms will be monitored on evenings, weekends, holidays, etc. and assign that duty.

Designate a moderator

  • Limit the number of people authorized to respond to comments so the agency’s message is consistent.
  • Evaluate if designated responders need training, particularly around consumer confidentiality.
  • Let employees know who they should contact if they feel the agency shared incorrect information.

Respond to negative comments

  • Keep responses polite and professional.
  • Consider changing settings so comments are reviewed by your moderator(s) before they are posted. Reviewing comments ahead of time provides lead time for addressing public concerns.
  • Reply to a negative post quickly to help defuse the situation.
  • If someone posts a negative comment, move the conversation off social media. Contact the consumer privately about their concern or ask them to contact a pre-determined mediator within you agency.
  • Create some standard responses to negative comments. Here are some examples (Hess, 2015):
    • We are sorry you had a bad experience; please contact us at XXX. Thanks for your feedback
    • We are sorry to hear about your experience. We are here to help.  Please contact us at XXXX so we can discuss this further.
    • Thank you for your comment. This isn’t the experience we would like our consumers to have and we would like to discuss this in person. Please contact us so we can look into the situation.
  • Create a plan for instances when a staff member is named in a negative comment.
  • Communicate to staff members that they should not to engage with a consumer if a personal attack is launched.
  • Ban or block users if they continue to share negative posts (Baird, 2014).

Develop a no-response policy

If replying to negative comments seems overwhelming, your agency could decide not to engage in 2-way communication on social media sites.  If your agency adopts this strategy, post a no-response policy in the static areas of social media platforms.  Here is an example:

While X may receive comments from the public to social media communication, X does not engage in two-way dialogue on social media sites.

Overall, we feel the benefits of social media use outweigh the potential for negative fallout, but encourage VR agencies to develop a strategy to handle negative comments.

References

Baird, W.  (2014, October, 9).  7 Tips for Responding to Negative Comments on Social Media.  Retrieved from: https://www.insight180.com/7-tips-for-responding-to-negative-comments-on-social-media/

Hess, R. (2015, July 28). How to Deal with Negative Comments on Facebook.  Practical Ecommerce.  Retrieved from: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/117346-how-to-deal-with-negative-comments-on-facebook

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