What to say when you'd like to say #$@! off

When you can't escape from crafting responses to angry people, remember 4T2P. 

When you can't escape from crafting responses to angry people, remember 4T2P. 

As the social media manager for an organization, you may find yourself wishing that those angry people on social media would just go away. While I can't make that happen, I can make it a little easier with this guide for when you find a nasty comment that needs a reply: 4T2P.

Transparency

When it's not readily apparent (e.g., when you're responding on someone else’s blog or off one of your official social media accounts), always disclose your affiliation to the organization and your role within it. Signing as a real person also may temper ... well, tempers. Sometimes it's easier to yell at a logo than the person behind the posts. 

Tone

The tone of your reply should be professional, yet in keeping with the medium. It’s okay to use the lingo of the medium—hashtags and word shortening on Twitter, for instance—but not at the expense of good grammar, spelling, punctuation, or your brand voice. 

Pro Tip: If you have to shorten a word, make sure it doesn't look like a spelling error. For example, never shorten "you're" to "your" to save 2 characters. Even "ur" would be better. 

Third-Party

If the nature of your response is to correct misinformation, you should link to more information where possible. For maximum credibility, that information shouldn't be your own. 

Timing

On social media, timing is everything. You should aim to post within hours, not days. However, do take some time to make sure the post is accurate and error-free.

Pro Tip: If you have to reply to a very vitriolic post, give it an hour. If you answer back right away, your chances of being sucked into a nasty discussion are higher. By waiting a bit, you give the poster a chance to cool down and get distracted by other things. 

Profile

If you need to triage, focus your efforts on responding to high-profile commenters. Doing so ensures the most eyes on your response with the least effort. However, you should only triage when the posts are coming fast and furious—pun intended. If you've only got two replies to make one morning, answer both. 

Privacy

Always protect the privacy of clients, employees and the public, and do not disclose confidential or proprietary information in your reply. If you’re not sure, check before you post.