You're probably aware by now that using social media opens up the world of comments both positive and negative. At its best, it has a profound impact on parental engagement. We will go through steps and processes on how to respond to negative comments and the different options you have to manage them.
What to do when you get a negative comment
If you are using social media you are going to get comments, and you need to respond. That's what social media was made for.. to be sociable. Comments are inevitable. But what to do with those pesky negative comments you might ask? Everyone will get a negative comment at some point or another... so what to do?
If you read my previous blog on How to Create a Social Media Strategy For your School, you will have already an allocated person who is in charge of managing your social platforms. This person needs to be monitoring your comments for rare negative comments that do arise. How you respond to the negative comment reflects on the public’s perception of your school. This is important to prospective and current parents looking at your Social Media. Let's get into the process of what you need to do when a negative comment arises...
Plan out your response
Have a standard step by step guide of how to respond to negative comments. You can then apply this process to all the negative comments and they will all be treated the same. It also helps when an unexpected negative comment comes up you won't panic and you will know what you do.
1. Monitor your comments
As I mentioned earlier you need to have someone monitoring all your comment on social media. This can be difficult over several social media platforms. To help you can sign up to a social media scheduler like Hootsuite where you can monitor all your comments in one place. Once you have found the negative comment you need to address it quickly.
2. What type of negative comment is it?
There's varying degrees to negative comments. An extreme negative comment such as bullying and abusive language should be policed rigidly and dealt with quickly. For example, if one student decided to use your social platform to post negative comments against a teacher you need to find it and deal with it as fast as possible.
Not all negative comments will be extreme, so it is important to identify what type of negative comment you are dealing with. Maybe your calendar on your website is not working or they can't access the website. These comments are good and can alert you to another issue that needs to be resolved.
3. Save and Review
We recommend you archive all the negative comments; this can help you if you ever needed them for a legal reason and will help you to respond to all negative comments consistently. Simply screenshot what you can and makes as many notes of the comments and transactions that take place. You can then review what went well and what didn't, then you can refine your process of how to respond to negative comments.
4. Log & Record when a comment starts to escalate
It's important to log and record when a negative comment starts to escalate. This is so you have as much information as possible to resolve the issue. Here is a suggestion of the steps to record when arguments or negative comments are taking place:-
- Identify the original comment
- Who made that comment
- Which social platform it appeared on
- Screenshot the comment on the platform in case you need to remove the comment from your schools' social platform straight away or the author removes it from the channel.
- Decide what will be your official response and action?
- Notify the original commenter that the issue is being resolved.
The dos and don'ts when responding to a negative comment
Do: Make sure to stay on of your comments. Social Media is open 24/7 so you need to be at least checking your account daily.
Do: When a negative comment does appear, make sure you acknowledge you have received it and be clear and direct how you will proceed. Timing is key. The quicker you can act and respond to a negative comment the better. It's best to try to soften what you stay so it doesn't aggravate the person who left the comment even more. Be calm and think about what you're going to say!
Do: Be diplomatic in your response to a negative comment. Try to see it from their point of view and see if it's and genuine concern or if someone is upset. This can help get to the root of the problem and find a resolution.
Don't: It can be tempting to ignore the negative comment and pretend it's not there. But this can quickly escalate the problem more if a person thinks they are being ignored which will reflect badly on your school. So don't ignore negative comments.
Don't: When responding to a negative comment don't be Defensive or Patronising! These are things to remember when responding to a negative comment. It can be difficult not to respond in these ways but remember people can read your response. You want to respond in a professional and neutral manner. This will reflect well on your school and how you deal with conflict.
Last few tips ...
You want to encourage positive comments as this is great for engagement and promoting your school, which will give you a wider reach. To deter negative comments, set a standard of what the comments should be on your social platforms, whether it be negative or positive. You can put this in your description or as a little disclosure. For example, "no abusive or aggressive comments on this page. If so their comment will be deleted immediately." By having a clear public policy you can hopefully steer away some of the negative comments.
Look at each social media moderating settings; with some like Facebook you're able to block certain words from your page. Turning on the 'profanity filter' blocks offensive words and phrases. With some platforms, you can turn off comments altogether. I advise against this as it defies the point of social to be interactive and social. It will also have a negative impact on the reach of your posts.
All in all, try to enjoy engaging with your audience on social media and interacting with them in the comments. If you do a get a negative comment here and there you will now have a fool-proof process to know exactly how to tackle them!