By Daniel Edward Craig
Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp or another review site, sometimes comments are so extreme or feel so personal your judgment gets clouded. When is it better to ignore a comment? And is it ever okay to say the person is wrong?
In business we should always be as professional and courteous online as onsite, but different comments call for different responses. A lot of social media interaction is public, so your audience goes well beyond the person you’re responding to. Say the wrong thing, and it can have a direct impact on your ability to attract business.
To help, here’s a quick guide to ten common social media personality types and how to respond to them.
1. The Complainer. These people feel they’ve been mistreated and want to sound off. Don’t deny them the privilege. Engage them, apologize, and try to make amends. But don’t assume they’re looking for freebies; sometimes they simply want an empathetic ear—or several hundred ears. And don’t give them reason to complain about how you handled the complaint.
2. The Advocate. Advocates are awesome because they actively promote your business to others, and personal recommendations are far more powerful than anything you can say. Take the time to thank them for their efforts. Cultivate advocates in that fertile ground between expectations (what you promise) and results (what you deliver).
3. The Detractor. Detractors don’t just complain; they publicly discredit your business. This can be damaging to reputation and may scare prospective customers away. Get to the bottom of the issue, resolve it as best as you can, and work hard to win them over. With expert handling your harshest critics can become your greatest advocates.
4. The Passive. These people think your business is okay—not great, not terrible, just meh. They probably won’t come back, and if they bother to write a review it will be lukewarm. If the experience isn’t typical, respond to apologize for falling short of standards. This will serve the dual purpose of reassuring others. Then focus your energy on purging your business of mediocrity. Passionate staff and remarkable experiences are powerful antidotes.
5. The Passive-aggressive. When you ask these people onsite how everything is, they smile and say just fine. Then they go home and post a scathing review. It’s frustrating, but resist the urge to lecture them. It’s not their responsibility to tell you what’s wrong; it’s your job to find out. Thank them for their feedback and fix the problems.
6. The Influencer. Influencers may never walk through your door, but they can send people your way, sometimes in droves. Whether a blogger, journalist, celebrity or social media warlord, they influence the opinions and behavior of the masses. Show your gratitude and help them spread the love—both yours and theirs.
7. The Troll. Trolls live under a bridge, where they post off-topic, offensive or outrageous comments intended to provoke a reaction. Don’t give them the attention they crave. Ignore them—everyone else does.
8. The Misinformant. These people get facts wrong. Usually it’s not deliberate; they’re just careless or confused. Never accuse them of lying. If the detail is minor, let it go. If it will set expectations you can’t meet, respectfully clarify the matter. If it’s damaging, ask them nicely to stop and ask the host site to remove it.
9. The Gusher. Gushers are so enamored with your business you can’t help but wonder if they’ve confused it with another. Praise is wonderful, but not if so exaggerated it sets false expectations, which can lead to a backlash of WTF reviews. Thank them for their generous comments and graciously clear up any glaring inaccuracies.
10. The Extortionist. These people threaten to write a bad review if you don’t give in to unreasonable demands. While you don’t want to reward such behavior, you also don’t want that bad review. Work hard to find a solution, be unfailingly courteous, and record all the details. If they follow through, dispute the review with the host site and post a response to respectfully give your side of the story.