How To Protect Your Brand From Facebook Bullies

What's the best way to handle defamatory posts on Facebook?

What should you do when someone posts nasty things on your brand’s page?

Some advise that you never, ever delete negative posts because that might motivate the poster to write their complaints elsewhere — the complainer could also come right back and post on your own wall that you deleted the previous posting.

Dealing with a defamatory post is not that black and white — it is important to note there are no absolutes in social media because you are dealing with human behavior, which is unpredictable.

That said, we support brand transparency, but as social media managers we must make a judgment call based on the brands we represent. What is acceptable on the Facebook page of the HBO show Entourage might not be suitable for a nonprofit such as the American Red Cross.

We advise clients to treat this scenario much like a face-to-face exchange. If someone is yelling, screaming or accusing you of lying in front of a room full of your friends, you would undoubtedly remove that person from the room or confront the bully. We recommend the same course of action for social media.

Although you generally shouldn’t make a habit of removing posts, if they become defamatory, we recommend removing them to avoid giving online bullies the attention they so desire.

You might want to write up a set of house rules for your Facebook page and post it there to help others understand what is acceptable or not. Now flash backward to the days of playground nostalgia (or angst). What were mom’s tried-and-true tips for responding to bullies?

  • Keep your cool.
  • Carry your head high.
  • You are above the bully’s behavior.
  • They just want attention, so do not give it to them.
  • Save your dignity and walk away.

Not surprisingly, the same advice applies to cyber bullies on social media pages. You cannot talk sense to an irrational person, so don’t bother.

Determine which posts actually warrant a response, but do not waste your time on posts that are inappropriate, obnoxious, or defamatory. Remember the face-to-face example. If someone behaves badly, and you react calmly and logically, the bully looks bad. If your response is equally irrational or dramatic, you look just as foolish as the instigator does.

Bullies — both on the playground and on Facebook — gain strength when their victims add fuel to the fire by responding emotionally.

Keep your responses straightforward, acknowledge that you’re listening, but don’t encourage bullies by stooping to their level. You want social media to be an open forum where consumers can share feedback — so remain transparent, but keep it concise and simple.

Now, keeping calm and cool is great — but not at the expense of your brand essence on social media sites. What’s your number one advantage in the war against cyber business bullies? The delete button! At a certain point, it’s up to you to control the conversation on your page — not your audience.

As for protecting your lunch money, well, you’re on your own with that one.

Adele Cehrs is president of Epic P.R .Group.