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Ed Note: This article was written by Push ROI’Mason Pelt, and first published in Social Media Week on May 29, 2015 prior to the Adweek acquisition.

When you are running a social media page for a large brand (or even a small one that sells online), people will come to you with every kind of concern, complaint, support request and random unrelated thought of which you can think. (Winston Churchill would have liked that sentence.)

As a brand, when you have comments you have to respond in some way. These are the ways I recommend to make sure you de-escalate the negative comments, answer everyone’s questions and keep the brands social page to the standards you would like.

Respond to Every Concern

If someone posts something negative, keep in mind the possibility that it could be true. I’m not suggesting that you test products on aliens or that your CEO thinks Sci-Fi movies are historical documentaries (It was on the History Channel… Stop mocking me.), but sometimes the customer has a valid point.

An example of a harsh, but valid complaint someone left as a comment on one of my clients Facebook ad was:

“It’s a scam! You give them money and they never give you [Product Name Redacted]. It’s been months and I still don’t have what I ordered. Don’t buy from this company.”

For context, the ads we’d been running were working well. They were working so well that we had sold out of product–meaning that this woman had ordered and paid for her product and, after what she claimed was months, hadn’t gotten it.

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Comments like this need an immediate response with the kid gloves on. This customer was clearly upset and was not only prepared to upset others, but was actively trying to cause a scene.

Be Public, Polite and Helpful

You have to post a public response. Other people see your comments. Try to fix the problem in public if you can.Things like support requests are likely to be problems for more than just one person and, if you can help them, do it. Other people see your comments.

Take Things Out of the Public Eye Transparently

If you cannot fix the problem in a public forum try saying, “I’m sorry you’re having problems. Send us a message and I’ll try to help you.” You have to defuse the situation and helping the customer is the fastest way. Also, letting others see you’re helping the customer will help take some of the wind out of the sails of the complaint.

Never Just Delete or Block the People Who Don’t Agree With You.

Both comments that have valid points and the ones that fall under the “wackadoo” folder are still relevant and deserve a response. Do not block a user or delete a comment because you don’t like it.  That’s a great way to end up on Ripoff Report or earn other bad press.

Have a Public Social Media Policy

Not all negative comments deserve a response. Trolls come in many forms and not only is it okay to remove hate speech and flaming, I would argue it’s an obligation. My recommendation for Facebook and YouTube is to post a disclaimer in the “About” section explaining what is and is not okay on your pages.

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My Old Faithful policy is:

“Your comments are always welcome, even if they are critiques. However, we will delete your remarks if they are deemed off topic, contain vulgar language, or are disrespectful of others.”

This gives you a lot of leeway and a way of saying way a comment was deleted or blocked.

Following these tips will help you maintain a better relationship with your customers and keep small, manageable problems small. Remember, outside of the spammers and trolls, every comment on your brand’s page is a gift, because your brand knows about it and has an option to respond it. So respond like someone gave you a gift.

Mason Pelt is the managing director of Push ROI. Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash