How Can You Manage Negative Facebook Comments?

Odds are that you’re going to be more likely to deal with haters than fans on a Facebook page, according to a study. But smart moderation tactics can help defuse issues before they get out of hand.

For every three comments the average Facebook page gets, two of them are likely to be negative.

That’s according to research from INFORMS, an international association for operations research and analytics. In a recent analysis published in its scholarly journal Information Systems Research, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that, in an analysis of 12,000 posts from 41 Fortune 500 companies, negative posts outranked positive posts at a ratio of nearly 2 to 1. While positive and negative posts tend to get more likes than traditionally neutral posts, the negative posts tend to attract more comments, which means that the Facebook page creates an unstructured area that tends to attract negative feedback. Which, of course, isn’t particularly great news if you rely on social media to reach your members.

So what does that mean for your own strategy when managing the social network? A few strategies worth keeping in mind when dealing with social media negativity:

Acknowledge there’s an issue—but don’t delete it. The social media performance-tracking firm LocoWise, in a guide about managing negative comments on Facebook, says that preventing negative comments, or removing them from your page, tends to be counterproductive. “The best approach from the outset is to take on the challenge of negative comments and focus on positive ways to manage them (unless, of course, they are racist or offensive, or a legal issue),” the company says. LocoWise also  says that even if you can’t solve a problem immediately, it’s in your best interest to acknowledge it.

Use the “hide” functionality. Even if you aren’t deleting comments, you can still reduce their impact by hiding them in the Facebook interface, effectively making it so that overly negative responses don’t affect the overall tenor of the conversation—while allowing critics to get a word in. Hiding the comment makes it disappear for the public when they’re viewing  pages, but it still shows up for the user who added it, as well as for their Facebook friends. “I think this is wonderful, since they’ll continue to think they’ve gotten away with their snarky comment, while it’s evaporated for everyone else,” Marketing Land columnist Chris Silver Smith wrote in 2016. “This reduces some of the conflict, helping to diffuse the situation, and the hater may lose interest at the lack of attention and wander off.”

Handle headaches privately. Facebook’s own business page recommendations suggest leaning on private messaging in some cases. “When you reply with a private message, anyone can see that your Page has responded privately below the comment,” the company explains in a list of moderation tips. “Private responses are helpful when addressing matters that are more personal in nature or specific to the individual.” It’s a tool in your toolkit when responding publicly might just make things worse.

Leverage your public face. Not all responses should be handled privately, however. In an interview with BizReport, Mochen Yang, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and a coauthor of the INFORMS report, says that it’s important to respond in a way that is productive and can publicly be seen as such. “Brands’ conversations with customers on Facebook business pages are public to all users on the pages,” Yang explained. “Therefore, if brands can do an effective job of addressing negative posts, it will be observed by other users, which will likely enhance the positive images of the brands. In general, we suggest that brands should use the public nature of their business pages to their advantages.”

What strategies do you use to manage moderation on your Facebook page? Share them in the comments below.

(VladSt/DigitalVision Vectors)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!