I talk a lot about the importance of being social on social media – not posting and then vanishing until your next piece of content is ready.
So, I’m obviously going to say you should always reply to comments on your posts, right?
Well, mostly, but there are exceptions.
The comments section can help you forge real connections with your followers, if you keep in mind these dos and don’ts of interacting online.
DON’T Hide or Ignore All Negative Comments
I know several clients have felt uneasy about responding to some comments on their social media posts, particularly criticism.
Not knowing how to handle these situations can mean some people choose the easy option of clicking ‘hide comment’. But ignoring a problem isn’t always the solution and it gives a bad impression to the responder.
Your page should not be a dictatorship. This is your brand’s opportunity to show that negative feedback is heard and considered. It may be hard to admit, but sometimes the criticism may be valid.
If a customer has had a less-than-perfect experience, show them (and your other followers and page viewers) that you have great customer service. Best practise here is to acknowledge the poster’s comment and ask them to message you with full details so you can investigate and look to resolve the problem. This takes the rest of the conversation offline but reassures others that you’re responsive and reasonable.
DO Ignore Trolls and Delete Offensive Comments
The exception to the advice above is, you absolutely should hit hide or delete if someone has left an offensive comment. Show a zero-tolerance to this unacceptable communication and keep your page a safe space for all. If it’s really terrible, you can even report it and let the social platform deal with the offender.
Unfortunately, you may also encounter trolls from time-to-time. They may not use offensive language, but they’re usually easy to spot because they’re leaving comments that are clearly meant to stir things up. You don’t necessarily have to delete their comments, but don’t feed them with a reply – that’s exactly what they want, so silence is often best in these situations.
DON’T Repeat Your Replies
Copy and paste is not your friend when replying to social media comments.
Remember that what you reply with can be seen by others too, and if everyone gets the same robotic response it looks lazy and impersonal. Show your audience that you value them by putting some effort into a genuine, unique response. This also goes for comments on reviews too.
DO Answer Questions
Sometimes it can feel like you might get caught in a trip if you answer a direct question left in your comments.
If it’s a tricky question, like ‘why did it take ten weeks for me to receive my order?’, answer honestly. People will usually appreciate you being real, so if your business has been impacted by external (or internal) factors, be straight about it. Even better if you can offer reassurance that steps have been taken to fix the issue going forwards.
If it’s an interested query, take the time to answer as fully as possible. This could be the first time this person has interacted with your brand, so start their customer journey with you as positively as you can. Don’t be afraid to signpost them to other resources if the answer to their question is complex – giving people direct links to FAQs on your website or product detail pages, for example, can be super helpful for both of you.
DO Ask Questions
Show your audience that you’re interested in what they have to say – if someone posts an interesting comment, try asking them more about it. If they compare your product or service to another, ask them what features are important to them.
Starting a two-way conversation builds a much stronger relationship (and it will help your post be seen more people too!).
DON’T Stage Comments
Whilst it’s great to get involved in your own comments section, don’t try to manipulate it.
It can be tempting to add a comment from another account you have (or get your mum to play ‘customer’) but posing as a regular follower to either steer the conversation a certain way, or leave a glowing review, can be more obvious than you think.
Don’t fake it!
DO Stay True to your Brand Voice
People commenting on your post expect to get a response from a human being, so it’s natural to be slightly more casual and conversational in how you write a reply (compared to how you might write for your website, for example).
But, do bear in mind your brand’s voice and try to stay consistent and recognisable. Remember you are the voice of your company and you should take care not to post anything too personal or that may be at odds with your brand’s established values.
Still feeling scared when your notifications go ‘ping’!? Get in touch if you want some one-to-one advice about managing your social media and using the comments section positively.