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5 Tips for Effectively Managing Negativity in Your Community

5 Tips for Effectively Managing NegativityNegativity happens. It’s an unfortunate side effect of public discourse, and tricky aspect of every community manager’s job. Though it’s never fun in the moment, a negative situation that has been well managed will speak wonders to your brand, and to your reputation as a community manager.

Here are 5 tips to help you effectively manage negativity in your community:

1. Have A Plan In Place

Negativity can often rear up quickly and with little warning to your team. It can happen during the business day, or after hours or on weekends when a community manager is on their own. It’s important to have a negativity plan in place that everyone on the team is comfortable with, so that when the storm hits you’ll be prepared to weather it regardless of where you are.

Key components of a negativity plan include classifying the different types of negativity that you may encounter so that you and your team have a shared understanding of what to respond to, how you will respond to it, and what should be escalated. You’ll want to include clear escalation paths, as well as some sample responses so that other team members feel comfortable in providing an initial response, if necessary. We (Get Satisfaction) put together a Negativity Plan Template for our customers, so feel free to check it out.

2. Do Your Homework

You may be tempted to jump in right away when you see a negative comment but take a moment to do due diligence. There is so much information you can gather with just a few clicks, and it will serve you well to take the time to do so.

Who is the person making the negative comment? Are they even a customer? How much time has passed since the original comments were made? What was the context that the comment was made? Understanding the answers to these basic questions will help you diffuse the situation, and determine whether it should be handled by you or escalated to an executive or even a PR firm.

3. Respond Swiftly

Just as important as doing your homework is responding swiftly. Think of tip #2 as a last minute cram session, not research for your final master’s thesis. Remember, about 40% of people complaining on social media expect an initial response within an hour. That doesn’t mean you need to provide a full answer, complete with workaround, reason for the issue, and coupons for a discount next time. A simple, “Thanks for letting us know! We’re sorry for the trouble. Let us look into it and get back to you,” will go a long way.

Remember to show some empathy when initially responding to negativity, even if the person is expressing frustration in a way that would not make their grandmother proud. You don’t know what’s going on with them, so try not to make harsh judgments. Even if your empathy doesn’t come naturally, the person receiving it will feel it, and it will likely make a big difference in how the situation plays out.

4. Always Close The Loop

An initial response is only half the battle when managing negative sentiment. You have to remember to follow up with your users and close the loop. By letting people know when an issue is fixed and being as transparent as possible about why it occurred, you’ll take major steps towards building lasting goodwill towards your brand.

5. Track & Measure Sentiment

Take the time to track the issues people are having, the features they’re having them with, the sentiments that are associated with the situation, and escalate your findings as necessary. It makes a difference whether a glitch makes customers slightly annoyed, or completely turned off from your brand. Capturing, and promptly sharing, this information can help your product team make well-informed decisions when determining which bug fixes and feature requests to prioritize. New product features based off of community feedback and swift bug fixes often leads to happy users. And happy users are the reason why we do what we do each day.

 

What other suggestions do you have for managing negativity?

 

Photo cred: aflutter via Compfight cc

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About the author

Caty is the Senior Manager of Community, Support & Education for Get Satisfaction. By day she spends a lot of time evangelizing the business of community, and teaching CM tips and tricks to new customers. By night, she decorates specialty cakes for a lucky few and spends time by the beach with her pup, Lucy.

19 comments
walkssophia
walkssophia

Negativity comes up in the segment where in there are matter which has great influence to be practically inclined with in the segment. With a respective approach to meet the standard, we believe that in the corporate world, managing the work does keep more importance for the company to successfully reach out to the standard. For that very reason, I have been using the cloud based task management software from Replicon ( http://www.replicon.com/olp/task-management-software.aspx ) which is hassle free and is featured with the user friendly and calendar based interface that makes it an intuitive tool to work with.

Hitwake
Hitwake

Great tips, Caty!

Here's a tip I've found useful: drown the negative with the positive.

Often a small but loud minority can make it seem like your product or service is bad for everyone.  People have a tendency to complain when something goes wrong.  When everything is working as expected, they are silent.

The result is that even if an overwhelming majority of people have a great experience, you may get a lot of negative reviews.

The solution is to encourage people to give positive reviews when they are happy.  For example, many iPhone apps show popups like "Do you love this app?" and if you tap "Yes", they'll ask you to give a review in iTunes.


catykobe
catykobe

@renby Thanks for sharing my article! See you when I get home! :)

keelyyapmo
keelyyapmo

As a general rule, I always begin with an apology about their frustration or annoyance (not our product), and then figure out what is happening by asking them to relay the issue to me in detail. People love complaining and it can be hard to not take it offensively when someone is trashing your product, moreso if it is public. However, we have all been annoyed by technical bugs or glitches that cause something to break, so I begin by acknowledging that piece first to calm them down and allow them to vent. People are much more responsive (and kind) when someone listens to them. Then I tell them the issue is being investigated or explain what could be happening and we work from there. 

I agree with Caty's advice on 'closing the loop'. I make sure I am always the last one to speak, or send an email, make a call, etc... I always want the person to feel as though I have done everything I could and gone above and beyond to address whatever the issue was. 

Great article @catykobe 

sookieshuen
sookieshuen

Thanks for sharing Caty. Can you recommend some tools that can be used to measure sentiments? Is there an integrated tool which combines a publishing and a social monitoring tool as well?

renby
renby

@catykobe of course! hope you're having a great time so far

catykobe
catykobe

@keelyyapmo Great point! Apologizing for the poor experience is definitely key, especially if you're not 100% certain where the problem is coming from. My first response always includes some form of an apology. Thanks for commenting & glad you liked the post!

halthomas
halthomas

@sookieshuen We've been using Engagor since the first of the year and we are really happy with it. It does combine both sentiment and contextual analysis with publishing/engagement, however it isn't cheap (though not as pricey as some).

sookieshuen
sookieshuen

@halthomas catykobe thanks for the tips! Will try those tools out and share my thoughts on them soon. Have a good weekend!