If you dare to place yourself out in the open (and you have to if you want to succeed!), then receiving negative comments is an expected right of passage. Negative posts are very common, especially with online communities where most of the content is user-generated.
You could say that it's a double-edged sword. Many people go to communities for the genuine and reliable discussions, but it can also get toxic really fast. So what can you do when that happens? How do you deal with such posts and people who wreck havoc on your community?
If you do find yourself in a situation where things are starting to get nasty in your online community, here are some useful tips that you can take into consideration:
Remember that these communities can exist with or without you. If you ignore them out of spite or fear of being attacked, then don't expect the criticism to stop anytime soon. By choosing not to respond to negative feedback, you only encourage people to talk badly or even abandon your business.
In the digital world, those who show up will reap all the benefits. If you don't, you forfeit your chance at clearing your name and recovering customers. The exception, of course, is obvious trolling that's clearly intended to cause harm. The last thing you want to do is give in to trolls and bullies, and compete in a fight you can’t win.
If the user is expressing a valid concern, take it out of the spotlight and resolve the issue privately through email or chat. Direct messages tend to work best because it shows accountability, and it feels more personal and responsive. This lets you ask more details and get clarity on the issue. More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to talk like actual human beings, without the pressure of public criticism.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your community is to be silent and not give a clear explanation to your users, especially when they express frustration. It's likely that the reason why your customers are so upset is because they don't have all the facts and are merely reacting to a bad situation.
Take this chance to educate your community. Be transparent and respond promptly. Explain what exactly caused the problem and what you're doing to resolve it. Show how much effort you're putting into making customers satisfied. And most importantly, jump on every opportunity to empower them with all the information and tools that they need in order to succeed. This will help you get positive results.
At some point, we've all read online reviews from angry customers who go on endless rants, picking apart every little detail of your product. And this is where many small business owners fail by responding with equally aggressive comments. While it can feel pretty good to fight fire with fire, it almost never ends well.
Remember that online content can exist for a very long time and that you’re not just responding to one angry individual, but to every person who reads the conversation. If you respond in a hostile manner, casual observers can have a negative impression of your business and decide to stay away.
The key to winning your community over is a thoughtful, empathetic response. Sometimes all angry customers need is a sincere apology. There's definitely a reason why they took the time to write negative feedback. Now your job is to understand what that is and why it caused them pain or inconvenience. Timely apologies for delays, a good explanation, and asking for patience is fine. Thanking the community for their input and promising to get back to them is great. Show the community you are willing to own your mistakes, fix them, and make sure they don’t happen again.
When you're actively building your online community, you may think you're all alone in seeing and digesting these negative comments. However, as you grow your userbase, you'll start seeing more loyal fans and brand advocates who will stick up for you too.
If someone says something incredibly wrong, or provides false information, or even just leaves a petty comment, your community will often stand up to this person to set the record straight. And this is actually the best way to respond to negativity—letting your community bat for you and offset negative comments.
If that doesn't happen, don’t hesitate to invite ambassadors into the conversation. A teammate trying to fix the problem, a 3rd party business partner, a loyal customer, a superior, or basically anyone who can help defuse a potentially explosive situation by offering solutions and a different perspective.
In doing so, make sure you don't engage in any obvious PR or Marketing tactics. This will only earn you more criticism. Remember that online communities are primarily about having genuine discussions and honest conversations.
Overall, it really just boils down to responding like a human being rather than a big business focused only on profit. If you're consistent, honest, and empathetic, you’ll gain the kind of respect and credibility that can help deflect any future negativity.
Of course, it also helps to be equipped with the right moderation tools that help you keep your community safe. Beam.gg's Word Filter tool automatically censors specific words from posts and comments within the community site. This will help you filter out any negative content that you don't want your users to see in the community platform.
And using the tool is super simple! Just add the words that you want to be removed from user-generated content, and our program will automatically replace those words with asterisks in a sentence. You also have the option of using Beam.gg's default list of banned words.
Try beam.gg for free and get your online community up and running in just a few minutes!