Change morning shows, add a controversial feature, or run an interactive promotion and you will have more than just your devoted P1s responding online. If you think “You can’t please all the people all of the time” is a cliché, think again. No matter how awesome your promotion, feature or new jock is, you will have a few “haters” who can’t be pleased. In a radio world where listener interaction is dependent on Facebook and Twitter, how should you handle social media negativity? Here are five rules to help you manage the mess:
1. Don’t delete! While your first instinct may be to hit delete and get rid of negative comments, don’t do it! This will backfire, breeding an outraged mob of listeners who will keep talking louder until their voices are heard. If you put your brand out there, you must be willing to hear listener opinions- good or bad.
2. Let them know you’re listening. Reply to the negative comments, calling listeners by name (which can sometimes be funny since you’re addressing them by their online name). Respond to them to let them know their voices have been heard.
3. Be Honest and Be Sincere. If you can easily justify their concerns, do so publicly. This will allow other listeners to see your response, and will usually keep them from adding duplicate comments. Sometimes answering a misconception can lead to an interesting conversation, giving your listeners insight into what goes on behind the scenes at their favorite radio station.
If you cannot give an honest answer, let the person know you understand their frustration and thank them for the input. Address their concern without going into detail, and add something positive about the topic they are upset about. Don’t forget to thank them for listening; if they’re upset about something, it is because they care enough about your station to be passionate about it.
4. Don’t poke the bear. Believe it or not, there are people who live to stir the pot, making comments online just to start trouble. If a comment is senseless or without warrant, it is best not to respond.
5. Know when to say when. If your sincere response doesn’t put an end to the unwanted conversation, then just monitor the comments and let it die down. Offer your email address for further concerns, or reach out privately to continue discussion out of public scrutiny. If you’re concerned about how to handle a difficult situation, consult your public relations staff or station attorneys.
While social media negativity can be a management nightmare, it can also be a valuable tool. Your social media accounts can give you access to listener opinions you can’t get anywhere else. So, instead of hiring a research firm to conduct a listener panel, tap into your station’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Scroll through the everyday conversation of your biggest fans, and you’ll get a sense of what they love and what they could do without.
-written for Radio Ink