19 Jul Dealing with difficult people online: Four steps to take to maintain your integrity
Let’s face it, social media has created a wealth of opportunities for all of us in the financial services world. With that, comes a handful of potential pitfalls. With social media users hidden behind a computer screen, it seems people are far more empowered and eager to share their opinions and thoughts online than they ever would be in person. Most of the time visitors to our pages are nice, and engage in great conversations. Occasionally though…..they are not!
While some firms have eliminated this from ever becoming an issue by not allowing visitors to post on their page, other firms do allow posts by site visitors, in order to facilitate conversations with their clients and prospects. Any time your open yourself up to a conversation, there is always a chance for some negatives comments to come out. Whether it is a typical client complaint, or someone note agreeing with a post you made or an article you posted, at some point, someone will disagree with you (shocking, I know!). Don’t get me wrong, engaging in conversation with your followers, your clients, your prospects is always good — just be sure that you know how to manage those conversations that are less than ideal.
If it hasn’t happened to you yet, there will come a time when a client gets upset, a disgruntled former employee or colleague decides to make a less than favorable post, or a random person who visits your page decides to give their two cents in the form of a not so nice post or comment. You could also find yourself victim of a troll who decides to fill your wall with spam or other nonsense. It is not at all fun, is it?
Let’s deal with the complainers and the “haters” first. When someone posts something negative on your page or post, here are the steps to take:
Acknowledge them. When people complain, it is important to remember, first and foremost, they primarily want to be heard. Publicly acknowledging their concern will let them (and your followers) know that you care and that you want to solve the problem. (Note: you will want to check your firms compliance guidelines to determine what may need to be reported, or what steps you need to take if the posts is determined to be an actual complaint).
Don’t respond without thinking. One of the benefits of being online, as opposed to being face to face with someone, is that you can take time to think through things before you respond. This gives you the benefit of not “flying off the deep end” and saying something that will put you in a bad light. Be sure to respond with kindness and a genuine desire to resole the issue, or address the concern.
Take the conversation offline. This is particularly important for advisors, as we typically deal with very sensitive information. In the interest of confidentiality, make a public acknowledgement letting the poster know you will contact them directly to further discuss their concern and to ensure they remain happy with you and your firm.
Be honest and transparent. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. It is okay for others to see that. Don’t delete the negative comments, it will look like you are trying to hide something. Instead, let followers see you are trying to resolve any concern there may be. Being authentic and real will trump hiding the truth every time!
In terms of the other category of people — the spammers and the rude ones, the answer is quite simple: delete their spam/post and block them! If a visitor to your site, who you do not know, is attempting to sell something or to offer a service, get rid of them! If someone post crude, offensive, or vulgar comments, delete their posts. It will help to have a paragraph on your page that simply states that any promotional materials, spam and vulgar or offensive material will be deleted from the page, so that others understand that such comments or posts will not be tolerated.
My hope is that you never need to use any of these tips — that all of your social media followers are happy all the time, and continually strive to engage in thought-provoking and insightful dialogue on your page. When that day does come that you need these tips — follow them to ensure you stay on track, and keep your page the informative, insightful and engaging page that it is.