Luckily, haters are still quite rare within customer communities. In the past 5 years, we at inSided have seen just 2 out of a million community users get banned.
Still, if you manage a branded community, you’re bound to encounter some negativity. Here’s what you can do to counteract it and ensure that your community works as intended.
1. Don’t be scared of the haters
One of the principal benefits of a customer community is that—in contrast to external platforms like social media—it’s “humanized,” in the sense that moderators and users have their own profiles, names and avatars. Because they sense they are talking to real people instead of a Facebook wall, community users tend to be more authentic and more considerate.
If there is someone trolling in your community, keep in mind that the troll is a real person. That means you don’t need to be afraid of them. Instead, use the same tactics you’d employ to de-escalate an offline argument.
2. Let your (engaged) users respond
One such tactic is to use the power of the crowd to drown out negative sentiment. The members of your community typically won’t accept people trolling within their beloved digital space. So most of the time, they will take it upon themselves to respond to unhappy users and help stanch any negativity.
What’s great about this from a community management perspective is that these “defenders” don’t speak on behalf of the company. They are therefore free to speak from the heart (though they have to respect the community guidelines just like anyone else).
In addition to serving on the front lines to limit negativity, community members can also help you recognize and report haters.
3. Realize that even a hater might be of help
Acknowledging haters is a good thing because it gives you a chance to listen to real, unfiltered customer feedback. Your haters might speak out because they really care, or because they feel powerless. If you engage them and listen to their concerns, you may gain valuable insight in how your products or services could be improved.
4. Call the member that misbehaves
A great tactic for engaging is to call the unhappy customer, if you have access to their contact information. Many people who are misbehaving don’t realize that people are actually reading their messages. Give them a call to show them that you really care—most of the time, they’ll immediately apologize and might even become fans.
At the very least, the person typically won’t troll your community any longer after realizing that they’ve been noticed.
5. Always stick to the community guidelines
Always point to the community guidelines when you think that someone is misbehaving. Use the guidelines to judge whether a warning is called for—and if a person is out of line, consider issuing one or two warnings before banning them.
Sometimes moderators or community managers fall into the trap of letting their super users decide which members are not behaving correctly. This situation can get out of hand if your super users treat disagreements—or constructive feedback—as bad behavior. Instead of deputizing super users, you should handle haters yourself. Most of the time, they just want to be heard.
And the best tip? Make sure you focus on community building. A healthy community with lots of active and engaged users is less likely to suffer from haters. Act fast if necessary, but use 99.9% of your energy to attract and interact with people who want to have real conversations.