Using Moderation in Response to Negative Comments on Social Media


The assignment for this week asked us to review two negative comments made on a hypothetical Facebook account and then reply to them with moderation.  During our response, we need to maintain moderation while still acknowledging the complaint and expressing the fact that we are listening.  As an academic advisor, I think I am good at handling complaints with my students, but social media adds a new challenging layer because I do not have the ability to read body language and non-verbal cues from my client.  The first example is about a restaurant and is as follows:

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

I think my response to this post would simply be to apologize and to express an interest in gathering further information and making it relevant that I am listening and looking to take corrective action.  My response would be something like this:

“I am sorry to hear about your experience with our restaurant.  We strive to maintain the highest standards and this clearly was not reflected in your visit.  Could you please private message me more information about the situation including the day and time of your visit as well as any other specifics that you might find necessary.  That way, I can look into taking the proper corrective action.  Thanks!”

Short, sweet and to the point.  This response acknowledges the fact that I am listening and interested in taking the appropriate corrective action.  It didn’t talk too specifically about that corrective action and it didn’t offer some kind of reimbursement.  It was moderate. If the client is willing to go more in depth with me, I might be willing to later offer reimbursement or a coupon for a future visit, but I do not want to advertise that on the public Facebook page.  This next situation involves a news agency and may be slightly more complicated:

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

I think my response for this one will try to acknowledge the client’s problem with the reporting without necessarily admitting fault.  It will embrace the fact that the debate can be ongoing and may even offer a “higher up” to contact should the client still remain unhappy.

“Thank you for sharing your feedback on this situation and our reporting of it.  As you know, the Middle East is a very complicated situation and while we try to remain as impartial as possible, we understand that any discussion of this topic will often lead to engaging discussion.  We here at JSR TV are thankful to live in a country where we can have this debate and would encourage you to keep on having it.  I see that you are from Pennsylvania, here is a list of representatives that you may want to consider sharing your concerns with.  I have also forwarded your complaint to our producer, Gary Dell’Abate, in the hopes that he will take your thoughts into consideration for future broadcasts.  Thanks!”

What would you have done differently in these situations?

Should the first situation have admitted a little more fault?


8 thoughts on “Using Moderation in Response to Negative Comments on Social Media

  1. Hi Jake,

    As an academic advisor, I’m sure you’re accustomed to facing some complaints! You’re right, things can get heated on social media because you can’t read body language or really gauge the person’s tone. I handled the restaurant situation in a similar fashion that you did (great minds!). I wouldn’t want to offer any kind of free meal in a public space because it could encourage other users to make false complaints.

    If I were in charge of the news channel’s social media networks, I probably wouldn’t have allowed the second comment. Having worked at a newspaper and moderated the online comments, we had a pretty clear no obscene language policy. Before a commenter could submit their comment, they had to agree to follow our commenting guidelines. I would explain to the user that their comment wasn’t approved because they violated the guidelines they agreed to. All that being said, I thought your response was pretty spot on.

    • You know, I mentioned in another post that I didn’t even think of being able to point to something like a “profanity policy” and have that as grounds for removing a comment! Now, I think that is a really good idea, and if you have the policy to point to that has been established, who can complain? Thanks for mentioning this strategy!

  2. Great post Jake! I didn’t go into as much detail with the restaurant comment as I maybe could have. I basically said that the situation was being investigated and that we would strive to do better in the future. I didn’t completely own up to the mess because I am unsure of whether it’s a legitimate complaint or not. I doubt I would have offered compensation because the mess didn’t directly affect that person and other people could have commented if it was that bad and they chose not to.

    i wouldn’t have even gone that far with the second comment. I would have deleted it due to profane/obscene language, then explained to the customer that they violated the terms of service and I was forced to delete the comment. I then probably would have posted a similar comment to my audience who may have seen the original comment and wondered why it was deleted. I would have reached out to the customer after it was deleted and either listened to his complaint or referred him to someone higher in the company.

    • What a great picture! I think you did a great job in your first post not publicizing the fact that you would consider reimbursement since it may be a way for other customers to scam you in the future. I also think that when it comes to the news, it was a great idea to not only talk about forwarding the information to a producer, but also listing representatives that they can bring the issue to. I hadn’t thought of it in that way at all, and you really brought a new light to the way to respond! Great post!

    • Yea, as I mentioned above, I didn’t even think of pointing to some kind of policy for having the comment removed and I am glad someone brought it up. You would re-post a similar comment in the second example huh? Interesting. I think if I wanted the person to be able to make another comment, I would let them know in a private message that they could post another if they wished. Either way, its an interesting way to make sure we are trying to be fair. Thanks!

  3. Thanks Jake. Re the Mid East, after you had checked you were impartial, I would have firmly stated this in my response. I’m not sure there was a need to offer a follow up if the complainant is only going to receive the same answer from a colleague. Check the Week 6 Assignment strand on Sakai to see how the cussing was handled in real life!

    • Hmmmm interesting, I guess I assumed that there really was no such thing as completely bias free journalism. Who would you check something like that with? I mean, just reporting on something that you feel is “news worthy” indicates a level of bias for me. With the Middle East scenario, I guess I just assumed you wouldn’t be able to get the story “right down the middle” and would be surprised if you didn’t get complaints about the way the story was shared. The cussing I can see as grounds to remove the post anyway, but it is still a very interesting situation. Thanks!

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