For politicians and operatives of a certain age (or mindset), negative comments on social media can be a hard pill to swallow. After all, how is “Debbie” qualified to criticize our policies? Or what does “Doug” know about our media strategy? But we live in a new era and everyone has the ability to make their opinions, qualified or not, known widely.
And yes, it may seem like the unsolicited advice is a curse. And yes it may seem like your only option is to turn off comments, ignore the feedback, and use your social media channels as broadcast platforms, but we know that’s not right.
And you shouldn’t just let your social media channels become a free-range troll pasture because then well-adjusted people won’t want to engage.
You need to understand the 1% rule of social networks, which states that 1% of the community creates content, 9% engage, and 90% are “lurkers.” Familiarity with this principle should do two things for you:
- Understand that what you are seeing in your social media interactions is not a representative sample of your electorate, and
- Acknowledge that many of your voters are still seeing the potentially legitimate issues raised by commenters.
I’d also encourage you to reframe your view towards online feedback from an annoyance to an untapped resource. In startup world, teams are desperate for user feedback. It’s the most valuable asset a new company can get because it helps them refine and improve their product.
So how can your campaign turn social media feedback into a valuable asset?
First, I recommend starting with a good moderation list for your Facebook page. The default settings allow for way too much creativity. Criticism is fine, but ad hominem is not. I have carefully curated list of Facebook comment profanity I’ve seen over the years that I copy and paste into every page I admin.
Second, set expectations for how you’ll moderate comments, either in a post on your website you can link to or in the about section of your page. My rule for moderating comments is if someone is trying to offer counterpoint and discuss an issue in good faith while fostering a conversation, their comments should be allowed to stay.
Third, respond to questions, comments, or criticisms if they’re made in good faith or represent a misconception that you frequently encounter. You’ve got to get your side of the story into the mix and if you just leave errors uncorrected, the lurkers may assume you don’t have an answer or believe disinformation.
By monitoring and responding to comments on social media, I’ve been able to identify key issues facing the campaign I’ve been working on. It’s also a very effective way to drive engagement on the platform and help your content reach more users when the platform sees you’ve got an engaged social media community.