How to Deal with Angry Advocates and Testy Trolls

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Have you ever come across a comment on your Facebook Page or a Twitter mention that made you gasp? Has an argumentative user tried to poke holes in your content? No matter your mission, it feels like someone always has something negative to say. While it (hopefully) isn't an everyday occurrence, negative comments have become par for the course on social media - which is why I follow these four tips for responding to criticism online:

  1. Review and evaluate. Monitor your social media platforms precisely for moments when an angry advocate posts something rude or disdainful. Is this a troll or actually a concerned advocate? Before you take action, gauge the post and consider the sincerity of the complaint. This should inform how you respond to the comment.
  2. Address it promptly and politely. Don't let "YOU ARE ALL IDIOTS" linger on your Facebook Page. Responding quickly acknowledges your advocate's concern and lets them know that they've been heard. Your response should follow the 3P's: positive, professional, and polite. Don't feed the trolls with a sarcastic or unfeeling reply.
  3. Move it offline. Don't get dragged into a public fight. Instead, ask the individual to send you a direct message with their concerns. This allows you to gain more information and continue the conversation in a more constructive way.
  4. Block when appropriate. If you find yourself plagued by particularly vicious trolls, you can block them. Of course, you shouldn't block anyone who disagrees with you. But, if an individual continually trolls your community, feel empowered to remove them. You have a code of conduct for a reason!

While it can be scary, online criticism shouldn't keep you from engaging with your community on social media. If anything, critics can inspire your next blog post or even your next initiative. Instead of thinking of a rude comment as a problem, think of these interactions as an individual looking to engage.

What are your strategies for managing negative feedback on your platforms? Tell me about it in the comments! And if you're looking for more tips on managing your digital community, the Digital Advocacy Institute has resources to help you grow your social media and improve advocate engagement.