Haters gonna hate. But when they do, how do you respond?
For all the good that social media brings, it can also be a breeding ground for negative comments and fairly anonymous trolling. If you manage your church’s social media accounts, you’ll want to have a plan for how to respond to negative comments when they are posted on your account, because sooner or later, they’re bound to come.
We want to give you three tips for dealing with negative comments on social media.
DELETE OR ENGAGE
When you receive a negative comment, your first instinct may be to delete it, so it’s good to know in advance what kind of comments you want to deem as deletion-worthy. Here are a few good reasons to delete a comment immediately:
The comment contains profanity or obscenity.
The commenter uses racist/bigoted/hateful speech.
The comment is obviously spam (for example: linking to an unrelated random external website or making comments that have nothing to do with the original post or replies)
If the comment is negative but doesn’t fall into one of those categories, you don’t necessarily need to delete it. Negative comments are a great opportunity to try to connect with someone offline. If someone is hurt or angry, offering to grab a cup of coffee and talk about it is a great way to diffuse the situation. Most people won’t take you up on this offer, but at the very least, push to continue the conversation via direct message.
TAKE A BREATH
The quickest way to douse a fire of negativity is with empathy and kindness. When someone lashes out with negative comments on your social channel, think about what else must be going on in that person’s life for them to be getting so upset on your channel.
The easiest thing for you to do when someone posts something negative is to snap back with a knee-jerk reaction comment. If someone has taken the time to write something negative on your post, you want to be thoughtful in how you respond. Take a breath. Go to lunch or take a walk—then respond. Talk about how you plan on responding with a colleague before you post.
If you are managing your church’s social accounts, be aware that you are representing Christ in your interactions with those people. Negative comments can be frustrating, but if you respond to someone in haste or in anger, they may take your words as coming from “the Church” as a whole, rather than just the person managing its social accounts. It’s also important to note that other people are going to see how you respond to negative comments. Nothing you post on social media is in a vacuum, so a good rule of thumb is to respond as if all of your followers were going to see how you respond to negative comments. Remember, you’re also modeling what is appropriate behavior on social media for your congregation, so they may repeat with others the way they see you respond.
KNOW WHEN TO BLOCK SOMEONE
Blocking someone might feel like a big deal, but ultimately, if you’re managing an online community or the online presence of an organization, it’s your responsibility to establish and uphold guidelines that will make the interactions there productive and safe.
Sometimes, you’ll find that one person is consistently causing problems. In those cases, you may need to block them. Here are some good reasons to block someone:
You’ve repeated had to delete their comments because of the reasons listed under #1 above.
You’ve attempted to engage with that person offline or in private messages, and they show no interest in a productive conversation.
They’re consistently attacking others or antagonistic (even if their comments aren’t deletion-worthy).
Your first step would be to flag their comment(s) as abusive (most platforms support some sort of flagging or reporting, if you can’t find it, you can just delete it). Then you need to block the actual user. This will prevent them from seeing and commenting on that platform, but it may lead them to find you on another platform and escalate their antagonism towards you there. The nice thing about social media is you can block anyone on any social network if that step is needed.
What tactics do you use when someone posts negative comments on your church’s social media channels? We’d love to hear your experiences and best practice in the comments below.
When you’re finished dealing with the trolls, you’ll need to spend some time posting actual content on your social channels. Check out our social graphics product category, along with the rest of our huge library of over 35,000 graphics and videos, and explore our membership options (starting at $19/month) to use creative media in your services all year long.