I was delighted to sponsor and chair the recent MemberWise ‘Lunch and Learn’ focusing on negativity on social media. It was a full house at the Association of Optometrists (AOP), who kindly hosted the event. Over 50 delegates registered to listen to the fantastic speakers:

  • Ruth Richards, Head of Marketing and Communications at Mind, the mental health charity, which also offers membership
  • Kim Loo, Social Media Executive, British Dental Association, the professional body for dentists

I wanted to share some of the learning from the event, which might help you with dealing with negativity on your social channels:

  1. Acknowledge the issue & respond – if members/social channel users are making a less than positive point, you need to acknowledge it and then respond. The response should be clear and consistent, should that person or others continue to push the issue.
  2. Use tactics to help defuse the issue – questions with a link to relevant resources can be a way of responding that is less confrontational and can help engage the user.
  3. Keep a list of challenging users – especially if a few staff manage social media, it is helpful to keep an internal list of those users (which can include non-members and members) that cause difficulties, so that everyone is aware.
  4. Know when to stop there will be people out there who won’t support your stance or organisation whatever you do and say. Once you have responded, it is ok to withdraw if it is unlikely to progress.
  5. Avoid deleting even if the comment or post reflects badly on your organisation, it is far more authentic to leave it there and respond rather than deleting it.
  6. Go off social if necessary – just because something starts on social, it doesn’t need to continue on there. Sometimes it is better to deal with things on the phone or via email.
  7. Your complaints procedure should cover social too – just because somebody complains legitimately (i.e. they have not had a good experience of your organisation) on social media it doesn’t mean they can circumnavigate your formal complaints process. Anyone complaining should be directed to your complaints procedure.
  8. Give all relevant staff/volunteers the same training – in addition to having trained staff, if you have volunteers or branches that use social media in your organisation’s name, they need to understand your approach to dealing with negativity on social too.
  9. Learn as you go – managing social media is a continual learning curve, and how you deal with negativity is likely to change as the medium does. Just ensure that you learn from any difficult situations.
  10. Be prepared – your organisation should have a plan for dealing with negativity or complaints before they happen. Any issues are likely to be dealt with more effectively if you have a planned and considered response. If you don’t have this plan now – start writing it!

It was a really great event. Here is a nice comment from a delegate:

“Great stuff – informative, informal and time-efficient. Best of all  – FREE”

How do  you deal with negativity on social media? Any tips to share? Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

MemberWise seminars are free events for association and membership professionals: they offer practical information, targeted learning and networking opportunities; and are linked to the core capabilities of leading sector providers.