If you’ve been online at all last week, you’ve probably heard of Amy’s Baking Company. There was a bit of a social media meltdown. A meltdown so severe, actually, that it has prompted them to claim they were hacked and host a grand reopening in hopes of offsetting some of the damage done.
The meltdown followed Gordon Ramsay featuring Amy’s Baking Company on Kitchen Nightmares and giving it the proud distinction of being the first kitchen he’s ever walked out of because he couldn’t deal with the owners. When the public took to social media to voice complaints about the restaurant and owners, that’s when things got really interesting.
I’m not going to pretend that the comments that started the social media meltdown were nice. They weren’t But the company response was even worse. Worse especially because they represent a brand, one apparently trying to stay in business.
How you deal with negative comments and trolls on social media is an important part of your online image. Your response shouldn’t leave you wishing you could blame hackers.
Amy’s Baking Company may or may not have been hacked (I’m leaning towards not hacked myself). However, the situation is a great lesson in what not to do on social media. Generally, don’t engage trolls and more specifically:
- Don’t insult commentors
- Don’t threaten violence, physical or otherwise
- Don’t use unprintable expletives
- Don’t type in all caps
Simple enough, right. I have no doubt that you can all avoid the above mentioned blunders.
So, what should you do?
Have a plan
First, you should be prepared, even if you aren’t scheduled to be on Kitchen Nightmares. Have a plan so when it comes up, everyone knows how to deal with it (even for something less dramatic than the situation I’m talking about here). When you put together your social media strategy, include your social media policy on negative comments, etc.. Often, comments are meant to upset you, and you do not want emotions getting in the way while you respond; having a policy in place will help.
If something negative does show up, document it. Grab a screen capture in case the poster decides to change or delete comments that represents a legitimate concern that you need to deal with. If things escalate you may need proof of the original comment.
You gut response when you see something negative about your brand posted publicly on your social media, might be to just delete it; you have that power. However, that might make the poster angry and lead to even more negative comments, the kind that point out that you are deleting criticism instead of addressing the issue. It can also have negative impacts on those who didn’t post; you could be seen as a brand that likes to put shove anything negative under the rug and only let the positive things remain. Remember, social media is about being real.
However, even with the above said: If it’s a truly offensive comment, racist, pornographic etc, go ahead and delete it. The sooner the better.
If the comments are legitimate; they should be addressed, and quickly. Keep your responses short and on point. You don’t need to engage in a lengthy dialog; don’t get sucked into an online battle.
Chances are, if someone is posting negative comments on your social media channels, it’s because they have a problem and were unable to express it another way. I’ve left negative reviews on Yelp (not like the ones left for Amy’s Baking Company) but only after I’ve had horrible customer service repeatedly. Providing good customer service online and off is the best defense against negative social media comments.