Facebook Guidelines

Of course we act as role models and behave accordingly! We don't allow ourselves to be triggered and remain rational, even when we want to tear him apart! There are people who are waiting for these weaknesses, let's not give them food!!

How do we react to a shitstorm?!

Option 1: Ignore

The easiest thing, of course, is to simply not respond to the criticism at all. Just leave the comment and don't pay any further attention to it.

This option is particularly useful if it is a critical comment among many neutral or positive ones and it does not receive much attention. However, it should only be used if there is no real problem behind the criticism that you should or can solve. In particular, chronic trolls who criticize simply for the sake of criticizing without having a real concern are best ignored.

The danger is that the commentator feels misunderstood or not taken seriously. Especially if other users join him, a larger wave can arise.

Ignoring is therefore an easy-to-use but not without-risk option.

Option 2: Hide

For comments on fan pages, Facebook offers the option to simply hide the comment. This is basically the next level of ignoring. The commenter receives no response to his post.

The advantage of hiding is that the author still sees the comment. His friends also continue to see the comment under the post as normal. However, the comment is invisible to all other users.

This means that the risk of the author of the critical comment noticing that their comment has been hidden is very low, which is an advantage over direct deletion. For many companies, hiding is the first option, especially when a shitstorm is brewing.

It should be noted, however, that concealment amounts to censorship. A productive dialogue no longer takes place. Hiding cannot therefore be a real solution, at least not permanently. You have to define for yourself and your company what kind of comments you still accept and what your limits are.

Although hiding is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it is often better than the first option, ignoring. Just proceed with tact.

You can hide comments on Facebook by clicking on the small arrow to the right of the comment. In the drop-down menu you will then get the option “Hide comment”.

Option 3: Delete

Deletion is the strongest form of censorship. The comment is gone and both the creator and everyone who has already read the comment notices this.

If you delete comments, you should have a good reason for doing so. Reasons could include, for example, legal or defamatory content, third-party advertising or insults. You can also define such game rules in a net etiquette.

If you delete comments, you should, if possible, briefly explain this in your own comment. This makes it clear that you are not simply “censoring around” wildly, but that there was a clear violation of the rules. A reference to the online etiquette (which can be created as a Facebook app or on the website, for example) is also helpful.

Be very selective when deleting. Just because you don't like the other person's opinion or statement is not a reason to delete it. Critical dialogue is an important part of the social web and many major shitstorms only arose when comments were deleted. Nobody likes to be told not to speak up, and those who do express themselves often receive approval from third parties.

Option 4: Respond in the same way

The fourth option is far from suitable for every company, but it has become more and more common lately. Both corporations like Deutsche Bahn and media like DIE WELT occasionally fire back in their comments just as stroppy or cheeky as was the case in the original comment. Such reactions from companies often receive great praise from experts, but they are a very double-edged sword.

Basically, there should always be respect and regard for the user or customer. However, this is not always reflected in such answers. “Shooting back” is therefore only suitable if the critical comment was obviously unjustified, exaggerated or even absurd. And even then, your brand should be positioned accordingly so as not to be damaged by such answers. The self-proclaimed juice shop “True fruits”, market leader in the smoothie segment and social media superstar in the food market, is famous for its sarcastic responses to cheeky comments. However, it is also a decidedly young and “hip” company with a start-up flair that can certainly afford something like that. Similar answers were much less well received by the railways.

In addition to an initial comment that deserves such a response and an appropriate company image, for this option you also need a fair amount of textual finesse, tact and charm in order not to become offensive yourself. I would only recommend option #4 as a serious answer choice in a few cases.

Option #5: Take it seriously and act

The last option is actually the important one. A significant portion of the criticism you will receive on the social web will probably contain at least some element of thought that is worth considering. Why does the creator feel this way? What had to happen for him to bother going to your Facebook page and commenting? And what can you do to help him leave the situation feeling better?

Criticism is always the result of dissonance. The customer expected a certain situation and found another. To what extent his expectations were justified or an interpretation of the actual situation is justified remains to be seen. Take his feelings seriously. Offer assistance and suggested solutions. Don't dismiss him with standard phrases.

Even if you don't have the solution right away, show that you have read and understood the comment and are now trying to find a solution. You should express this in a reply comment.

It is completely legitimate to then move further communication to a protected space, e.g. via email, telephone or Facebook chat. However, if you do, be sure to comment again at the end that you are happy that the problem was resolved. Other users who see the critical comment should now also see that you actually helped the creator. And maybe it even makes sense to post the solution publicly so that people who have a similar problem can find the solution and don't have to comment critically.

Criticism is an opportunity. Customers who criticize have not yet given up on you, in contrast to the quiet ones who have already left, at least internally. With the exception of obvious trolls and the usual haters, you should respond to criticism on the social web openly, helpfully and appreciatively - “social” in the best sense of the word.

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