This is a good question! When should negative criticism that gets posted to your social media channels be taken to, and dealt with, offline?
There are so many ways to deal with negative criticism and negative comments that get posted to your online channels, and sometimes taking the matter offline is your most strategic option.
Not everything is as simple as black and white
Negative vs. unacceptable comments are as black and white as you can get when talking about dealing with negative criticism online. For those of you who are a frequent visitor of my blog, you know that I firmly believe that negative comments should be seen as an opportunity that can connect you closer to your customers and fans, and therefore should be responded to with that in mind. Alternatively, unacceptable comments are unacceptable and should be deleted. Your company or organization should have a policy that clearly defines the difference between the two and the actions that need to be taken when faced with either-or.
But not everything in life – and rarely anything in a crisis – is clear-cut black and white. So what do you do when those shades of grey present themselves to you in the form of negative criticism or negative discussions online?
Dealing with the shades of grey
When you’re faced with a shade of grey that you feel can have a negative repercussion on your brand, or irritate your other customers and fans – but that shade of grey does not qualify as “black” and is not within your policy of comments that need to be deleted – your best bet in this type of situation is to try your best to take the discussion offline.
The benefits of taking the discussion offline
- You still show your care and concern for the unhappy individual, and this care and concern gets viewed by all other fans and customers coming to your channel.
- It provides the unhappy customer or fan with a personalized experience, and on the chance that you can still turn this situation into a positive opportunity, this dedicated and personalized attempt will help you accomplish that.
- For the situations that are simply unfixable (yes, they do exist) you are kindly removing the individual away from your public page.
Examples of ‘shades of grey’
- If the comment is bordering on unacceptable but doesn’t directly fall into the unacceptable category, it may be a shade of grey and the best way to handle it is to offer to help the individual via phone or email.
- When a customer or unhappy fan is complaining and trying to stir up havoc – and you just know that nothing you do or say will make them happy. This is another shade of grey and it is most strategic to publicly show that you care but to take the discussion offline.
- When a situation is more of a challenge to fix or correct and requires long discussions of back and forth. In these situations you don’t want to subject all your other fans and followers to this long, drawn out conversation. You’ll want to take the time to resolve the situation privately.
- When private information needs to be addressed or discussed, or legal matters are involved.
Alternative actions for those shades of grey
If you find yourself faced with a situation that sees no resolution, sometimes the best action to take is no action. Attempt to fix the situation. Attempt to bring the discussion offline. But when all attempts fail, sometimes it’s OK to walk away. Things are often more complicated than a cut-and-dry black and white, and it’s those shades of grey that can really get us stumped and aggravated.
What types of shades of grey have you faced, and how did you handle them? Share your experiences and comments with me below!