The Social Ladder

Social media users express their opinions freely and often with little or no accountability. For a large brand or institution, it’s routine for nearly every post to draw at least a handful of negative comments.    

But when is a troll just a troll—and when is responding recommended? 

Stress-testing tolerance for negative sentiment, setting clear guidelines and response protocols and using monitoring and posting tools can help organizations anticipate and mitigate online backlash.

When determining whether to respond on social, consider the following: 

  • Does responding risk elevating and inflaming the issue?
  • By responding, are you setting an expectation that others may hold you accountable for?
  • By responding to certain issues and not others, are you telegraphing your organizational priorities or revealing vulnerabilities?

Following the “do no harm” principle by not responding is typically the best route. But if an organization feels commentary has reached an inflection point, there are several ways to respond:

  • Tier 1 – Pushing back and correcting misinformation or rumors; answering appropriate user questions to clarify or inform.
  • Tier 2 – Deleting derogatory or offensive comments without public response.
  • Tier 3 – Reporting or banning repeat offenders that have shown patterns of disregard for social media guidelines (daily spamming, obscene language, etc.). Publicly addressing the issue given the volume or influential nature of the conversation.