Responding to Negative Posts on Social media

By Ann Chen

It’s going to happen. If your community bank engages in social media, eventually someone will post a negative comment or criticism. Knowing how best to respond isn’t always clear. But if it happens, your community bank can fall back on some general guidelines to determine the best course of action.

Here are some guidelines for how to deal with three different kinds of negative posts.

1 Defamatory, profane and offensive posts: Generally, it’s OK to delete them on Facebook and ignore them on Twitter. To protect your community bank’s Facebook page, include a set of “terms of use” in the page’s “About” section. (Check out ICBA’s terms of use; click on “see more” in the left “About” column.)

Stating in your terms of use what types of comments will be deleted will protect your bank from frequent violators, including those who complain about their comment being deleted.

2 Constructive criticism: People may express honest frustrations with your bank through your social media channels. It’s easy to write them off and want to delete these types of comments, but usually the best thing to do is to respond in a constructive way. That may mean taking the conversation offline if it needs to be addressed in a lengthy manner.

The best part about social media is its real-time feedback and its ability to generate conversation. Handling negative comments should usually involve listening, showing genuine concern and, if possible, solving the problem. However, if more than one person on social media complains about the same thing, that’s an opportunity to find out whether an issue needs to be addressed more broadly.

3 False comments: Sometimes, a person can post something negative that’s simply not true. Simply thank the person for his or her comment, but also gently correct his or her post. If a problem escalates, address the situation offline.

One advantage of social media is that it provides your customers with the opportunity to come to your bank’s defense, which would be a golden endorsement to your brand and reputation that traditional advertising can’t yield.

Ann Chen is ICBA’s senior social media specialist.