Negative Comments Take 2: My Personal Rules

4131064421 bfecc6073d 300x168 Negative Comments Take 2: My Personal RulesMany people have asked lately, ‘how do we deal with negative comments’? It is always asked at the start of a new social media campaign, usually in fear or as an excuse. Be it in Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, etc., this still is an issue I think becomes more personal than institutional. Of course companies and universities fear this the most. If someone says something negative about you, wont that look bad? I always counter with ‘they are already posting negative comments about you. Don’t you want to be a part of that conversation?’.

Of course, we need standard, communicated rules. Otherwise, we rely on only ourselves and not the greater community. Someday, out of no where, its going to happen. If you arbitrarily react and it should happen again and you react differently, it could come back to bite you. Many have discussed posting the rules of the community. Some said, in posting and discussing the rules of the community, students get annoyed or don’t want to see behind the curtain. Either way, internally, you need to know how you are going to react when this volcano should erupt.

Here are my personal rules, which I plan to share internally:

  1. No Profanity
  2. No Defamatory, Personal Attacks
  3. No Negative Rants Unrelated to the Community
  4. No Soliciting From External Vendors

That’s it. I’m very much of the mind that should a negative comment be posted the community will deal with it accordingly. Students have been very adept at countering negative comments with facts and positive experiences.  To delete the comment will only give it a stronger power in the community and allow for a firestorm down the road.

In my experience in social media at a university, I’ve never seen an instance outside of the four rules posted that needed to be addressed by someone ‘in charge’. All in all the nature of the community is to be open and authentic. Yes, things will probably be discussed that you would rather have hidden, but better for you to be able to engage - and see - those conversations than to never know they existed. Its product/service/brand management at its best. How can you get better if you don’t know what to change? If you know what to change, how great it is to have examples of what prospects/students want?

What are your personal rules? Have you shared them? Are they institutionalized? Are they on your social media properties?

This post was written by:

Jessica Krywosa

Jessica Krywosa - who has written 11 posts on .eduGuru

Jess is the Director of Web Communication at Suffolk University. She has been a leader in electronic outreach strategies for grassroots educational non-profits for over ten years. Currently Jess is focused on strengthening virtual relationships with a heavy emphasis on enrollment and retention based efforts. Connect with her on Twitter,  LinkedIn or visit her personal website and blog.


10 Responses to “Negative Comments Take 2: My Personal Rules”

  1. Avatar image
    Todd Says:

    Fear IS an excuse. :)

    What bothers me is the anonymous poster (locked down/vague account) that post nonsense with zero loss of credibility to their real life persona. Basically, I hate cowards who shout from afar in the darkness of the night. If they want to complain or attack, I’m much more forgiving if it is done under a spotlight front and center.

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Jess (author) Says:

    I agree. I’ve seen those people who create separate accounts just to post negative comments. If you’re going to do it, do it from an authentic place so someone else can comment and have a dialog. If you are just doing it to malice someone, then, go away. :)

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    Jenny Mackintosh Says:

    Hi Jess,

    Great article; I think the guidelines are good ones because they’re general enough to still require some smart interpretation on the part of the community managers. Not every case is black and white.

    I think another angle worth mentioning is that if you remove all negative comments, you effectively deteriorate your credibility as a source of information. If you don’t allow both positive and negative feedback, your foes, fans and even employees will just find another platform to voice their opinions — IHateStarbucks.com comes to mind.

    Reply

  4. Avatar image
    Jess (author) Says:

    @Jenny - Exactly! Plus, some people get into a debate with a negative post-er and then it spirals out of control! Kind of like the Nestle ordeal on Facebook that I discussed in my previous post on negative comments. Point is: there is no control. That’s the point.

    Reply

  5. Avatar image
    Julie Says:

    I agree. I’ve seen those people who create separate accounts just to post negative comments. If you’re going to do it, do it from an authentic place so someone else can comment and have a dialog. If you are just doing it to malice someone, then, go away. :)

    Reply

  6. Avatar image
    Christopher Says:

    Fear IS an excuse. :)

    What bothers me is the anonymous poster (locked down/vague account) that post nonsense with zero loss of credibility to their real life persona. Basically, I hate cowards who shout from afar in the darkness of the night. If they want to complain or attack, I’m much more forgiving if it is done under a spotlight front and center.

    Reply

  7. Avatar image
    Mike McCready Says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Your earlier post about the same topic was very helpful. It wasn’t much even a month and I had to deal with very negative comments on our newly create Facebook page. Your initial thoughts were very helpful. I actually wrote a post about it with my observations of what happened.

    I agree with your 4 points and think that by following those rules, many crisis will be avoided.

    We do have unofficial social media guidelines, but nothing that has been formalized. We also don’t have official response protocol, but I’m sure that will change.

    Reply

  8. Avatar image
    Pete Says:

    If i can have a constructive dialog with the comment posters it’s ok, but when they hide their personas, that’s immaturity, it doesn’t have much sense.

    Reply

  9. Avatar image
    Barb Chamberlain Says:

    The hitch for public universities is that it doesn’t matter, in a way, if your guidelines are reasonable (which your four rules are).

    As I (a non-attorney) understand it thanks to a great webinar a while back on social media and higher ed law from the University of Florida Law School (https://bit.ly/UFSMLaw) if you establish a wide-open public forum with no rules, then remove someone’s comment, you’re setting yourself up for charges of censorship.

    The “Baby Bear” middle ground is to define your space as a “non-public forum”. This means YOU set the rules for what types of comments are appropriate (on topic, appropriate to the site, etc.) and you have grounds for removing stuff that doesn’t fit (links to porn pix). You can’t remove statements because you don’t like them (like a complaint about a dean), but you can do the reasonable clean-up.

    You can still run it as an open-feeling space inviting comments so you’re in keeping with the spirit of social interaction and engagement we’re all hoping for. You’ve just set up some side rails.

    If you haven’t defined your space and have allowed all kinds of comments you have a de facto public forum and it’s tougher to defend your actions.

    Someone told me recently that blog comments are the fastest growing area of litigation-have no idea if that’s true but it sounds like we should pay attention to the guidelines we set AND PUBLISH on our sites.

    This is one of the reasons our campus doesn’t have a blog yet-I want to get it right when we go live!

    As another plateful of food for thought from the webinar, they cited a study in JAMA noting how many med students are violating HIPAA (patient privacy) with comments on social sites. Our campus focuses primarily on health sciences/health professions so I want to develop good guidelines and give training to students to help them navigate these rocky shoals.

    @BarbChamberlain
    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane
    @WSUSpokane
    https://www.spokane.wsu.edu

    Reply

  10. Avatar image
    Barb Chamberlain Says:

    The hitch for public universities is that it doesn’t matter, in a way, if your guidelines are reasonable (which your four rules are).

    As I (a non-attorney) understand it thanks to a great webinar a while back on social media and higher ed law from the University of Florida Law School (https://bit.ly/UFSMLaw) if you establish a wide-open public forum with no rules, then remove someone’s comment, you’re setting yourself up for charges of censorship.

    The “Baby Bear” middle ground is to define your space as a “non-public forum”. This means YOU set the rules for what types of comments are appropriate (on topic, appropriate to the site, etc.) and you have grounds for removing stuff that doesn’t fit (links to porn pix). You can’t remove statements because you don’t like them (like a complaint about a dean), but you can do the reasonable clean-up.

    You can still run it as an open-feeling space inviting comments so you’re in keeping with the spirit of social interaction and engagement we’re all hoping for. You’ve just set up some side rails.

    If you haven’t defined your space and have allowed all kinds of comments you have a de facto public forum and it’s tougher to defend your actions.

    Someone told me recently that blog comments are the fastest growing area of litigation-have no idea if that’s true but it sounds like we should pay attention to the guidelines we set AND PUBLISH on our sites.

    This is one of the reasons our campus doesn’t have a blog yet-I want to get it right when we go live!

    As another plateful of food for thought from the webinar, they cited a study in JAMA noting how many med students are violating HIPAA (patient privacy) with comments on social sites. Our campus focuses primarily on health sciences/health professions so I want to develop good guidelines and give training to students to help them navigate these rocky shoals.

    Here’s a nice graphic on social media triage for dealing with comments/interactions inspired by the US Air Force flowchart (which many have probably seen) and the EPA’s refinement of that: https://twitpic.com/1fl6vi/full (wish I could remember who to credit-I’ll come back and post author name if I can find it).

    @BarbChamberlain
    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane
    @WSUSpokane
    https://www.spokane.wsu.edu

    Reply

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