Social Media

How to Deal With Haters and Potty Mouths on Your Newsroom’s Facebook Page

Few things are as gratifying as positive feedback from your Facebook Fans. Unedited commentary from your viewers can be both the greatest gift social media has to offer and your worst nightmare. While all the story ideas and friendly interactions make it worth all the effort, there are always those fans who find pleasure in being argumentative, disruptive, disagreeable, and otherwise as negative as possible.

Some might argue that you need negativity to balance things out in your social community. I think there’s an obvious difference between offering your honest opinion and being negative. Regardless of how you feel, if you manage your Facebook Page or another social community for your newsroom, you need to know how to deal with negative feedback from haters, potty mouths, know-it-alls, and more. I’ve categorized the most common negative personality types I’ve seen across a lot of different Facebook pages and have provided some suggestions for how to deal with each one.

1. The Haters

These “fans” love to tell everyone how much they hate your station and hate your newscast. They jump at any opportunity to degrade your product and make general statements about how worthless you are.

The three best ways to deal with a hater are to respond, respond and respond. They don’t expect you to react, so they think it’s OK to say whatever they want. But, if KCAL jumped on this and responded to Mr. Halstead, it would have quickly silenced the rest of the group. But be careful to stay positive and professional in your response; otherwise, you’ll just add fuel to the fire.

2. The Know-it-All’s

There are two types of people in the world. TV people, and people who want to be TV people. Well, maybe not. But you’ll certainly get your fair share of “fans” who are convinced they can do it better than you.

Here, KLTV has (apparently) read the comments on their Facebook page and responded to them. Unfortunately, their response was to change the article rather than to address the fans who first brought up this ethics debate over the “honorable” judge. It’s OK to acknowledge mistakes; it will show your audience that you’re confident in your abilities. Simply write back and thank them for their diligence. This will prevent the snowballing, which, in KLTV’s case, led to this comment: “Guess they want to hide their mistakes and not take responsibility for them. Professionalism in the Tyler media just doesn’t exist.”

3. The Potty Mouths

Whether it’s those seven dirty words or simply an obnoxious innuendo, Potty Mouths love to make trouble on your page and draw attention to their offensive (albeit clever) quips.

There are two general schools of thought when it comes to deleting comments in social media: 1) Never delete comments because doing so invites censorship accusations and backlash, and 2) Sometimes, it’s okay to delete foul-mouthed dissenters but only if their words are offending the rest of the community. With this, the most important thing is to be consistent. Being choosy about who and what gets deleted will most certainly drum up anger among your fans. Instead, create a policy and stick to it. (If you need help, here’s an interesting case study involving Starbucks’ policy.)

4. The Uninvited Guests

Here’s the way social media works: People can write whatever they want; it doesn’t actually have to be in response to your post. And sometimes, these uninvited guests can really make an impression.

Aside from the fact that this is a hilarious typo, it’s a major credibility killer for WCBS. And rather than being a 2-second blip on their broadcast, their “fan”, Mr. Concepcion, has posted this unfortunate misspelling to the WCBS wall for posterity. In this case, deleting the comment would simply look cowards and would invite this to blow up into an even bigger issue. Your best bet is to either ignore it (as WCBS has done) or make a short, professional comment acknowledging the mistake and assuring the viewers it won’t happen again.

5. The Spammers

How many times have you gotten a call to the newsroom from someone telling you they have something for you to add to the 6 p.m. news? “Yes ma’am we’ll get right on that.” In social media, there’s no gatekeeper to keep these self-serving “stories” from surfacing on your social media space:

However annoying these “advertisements” maybe, take at least some comfort in knowing that they’re rarely seen by your true fans, especially if you change your default wall settings to show “Just Your Station” rather than “Your Station + Others.” If you want to do this, simply click “Options” and then “Settings” on your wall. If you don’t get a lot of this type of spam, it might not be necessary. But it’s an option for those who get bombarded by it.

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