This is an entirely different realm because this is a public business page. If you are accepting comments (which I think you should) then you can expect this type of thing happening.
Now if you are listening to the major social media marketing companies and experts, they are going to tell you that you need to do a couple of things right away.
- Response immediately.
- Acknowledge the issue.
- Apologize sincerely.
- Try to take it offline.
I completely recommend this line of thinking for an actual customer who’s upset with your product or service.
But that’s not always the case when it comes to farm/food company pages. You may be getting negative comments from people who have never used your product or service and never will. They think they can come and tear your business a new one based on their philosophy of life. And I don’t think these type of negative comments should be handled in this fashion.
Now remember what I’ve said before about how to handle negative comments first – 1. Evaluate the Messenger 2. Use your listening skills 3. Ask more clarifying questions 4. Be respectful and polite 5. Use your experiences as examples 6. Be on offense, not defense 7. Don’t use jargon 8. Provide links to experts 9. Craft a thoughtful response 10. If you don’t know, tell them 11. Find some common ground 12. Thank them for speaking with you.
But when it comes to your Facebook Page, you need to have a few things in place to help you deal with negative comments.
One of the best things to do right now is to make sure you have Facebook Community Guidelines. I would post this in the “About” section in the long description text and I would put up a post about the comments on the page itself. If things are not going well with a lot of negative comments, you can even pin the post to the top of the feed.
Here’s an example from Mackinson Dairy Farm. Great stuff.
Sample community guidelines: Thanks for visiting! We enjoy engaging in positive conversations about the dairy industry. In order to foster a learning environment and make this space respectful, we reserve the right to remove any comments/posts that include vulgar language, name-calling or slander.
There’s also some more ways to protect your farm business page – remember this is the front door to your farm. It doesn’t have to have negative comments from people who don’t buy your product or bad ratings by people who have never ever been to your place.
If critics are negative commenting on every post, you can turn them off by going into your Page, then click on Settings. General navigation tab should be displaying and you’ll be able to see Visitor Posts. Click on this and you can change the ability of people to post on your page. I would first change to “Review posts by other people before they are shown on my Page”. You’ll be able to review in the Activity Log. Or you can just disable posts by other people on your Page timeline. Then click Save Changes.
If critics are cursing or using words that you don’t want on your Page timeline, you can moderate that by clicking Page Moderation and adding the words you want to block and just below that you can can set the Profanity Filter as well.
Here’s a list of words you could think about adding “murder, Nazi, killer, kill, death, hate, murderer, Hitler, slaughter, etc…” These are some of the things I see the most used by extremists.
If a critic has just left one comment and it’s not relevant, you can hide their comment by going to the comment and then rolling over the far right top of the comment. An X will show up and you can hide the comment from the comment section.
No one else will see it but the commenter will be able to see it so they don’t think anything has happened (even though they won’t have any follow up replies).
You can also do this through the Activity Log.
If critics are continuing to come back and arguing in a non-constructive or are off topic, you can always mark their comments as spam and then you will get the option to block them.
If you feel like you would rather your audience handle the critic’s comments, there’s nothing wrong with using email or direct message to reach out to friends and have them join in with some positive reinforcements.
If you have ratings enable, because you selected your page as a business and have an address and people start giving you low ratings (not because they use your service or product), you can always switch the category of your page by going under the About Section of your page and editing the category from a local business or company to “other” and change to “community” and the ratings will disappear. You can also just delete your address and the ratings should go away.
The big thing to remember here is that this is your farm business page (the front door of your business) and while you might get a negative comment occasionally from a customer, a barrage of negative comments about what you do from people that don’t use your product or service is unacceptable. You have the right to moderate your page the way you see fit.
If you have any other insights you want to share or any questions, please feel free to contact me don.schindler (at) gmail.com.