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Social Studies Lesson 5: Dealing with Negativity and Creating a Positive Online Space

Posted by Aubrey Olson on Tue, Sep 12, 2023 @ 1:02 PM

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In this fifth installment of our series on elevating your social media game in gardening, we dive into professionalism, specifically dealing with “trolls'” negative comments and addressing social and political issues. 

How you respond to criticism and engage with your audience during challenging times can define your brand's reputation, earning your followers’ and potential partners' trust and respect. 

If you haven't already done so, sign up for our weekly Social Studies email series to catch up on any lessons you may have missed!

Keep reading to learn how to handle these situations with grace and empathy!

Critique vs. Criticism: Understanding the Difference
Critique and criticism can be challenging to distinguish between, but understanding the difference is vital in handling feedback effectively. 

Critique involves a detailed analysis and assessment, which can be constructive and valuable for growth. Responding positively to critique creates a welcoming environment where commenters feel heard and appreciated.

On the other hand, criticism expresses disapproval and can be more challenging to handle. When faced with criticism, taking the higher road is essential, allowing a moment for reflection and empathy. Aggressive rhetoric, even in support of something good, can be damaging. Responding thoughtfully to criticism can defuse tension and foster a positive experience for all involved.

Moderating Comments and Blocking Followers
Social media platforms, including Instagram, offer various levels of comment moderation. Utilize these tools to maintain a positive environment on your account:

  • Restrict: Restrict users whose comments are harmful or disruptive, allowing them to comment, but their comments won't be visible to other followers unless you approve them. This way, the user won't know they are restricted.
  • Delete a Comment: Remove comments that violate community guidelines or create a negative atmosphere.
  • Block: Block users who persistently engage in negative behavior, ensuring they can no longer interact with your account.

Navigating Social and Political Climate
In today's ever-changing social and political climate, it's crucial to be mindful of your posts' impact on future partnerships and your audience. When addressing social and political issues, let compassion guide you. If it aligns with your brand's values and purpose, you can make statements on important matters.
However, establish a policy to guide your approach:

  • Avoid commenting when the climate is distracting or content may become irrelevant.
  • Demonstrate values and beliefs through authentic content sharing.
  • In particular circumstances, make a statement, but refrain from positioning yourself as an expert or making it about yourself.

Homework: Crafting Your Moderation Policy
To maintain professionalism in addressing comments and trolls, create a moderation policy that aligns with your brand values. 
This policy may include:

  • Welcoming critique and not deleting such comments.
  • Deleting spam comments to maintain a clean and engaging space.
  • Responding tactfully to criticism with one thoughtful response.
  • Restricting accounts after persistent criticism (2x or more).
  • Restricting accounts for aggressive, personal, or malicious comments.
  • Blocking accounts that attack other commenters or engage in negative behavior.

Interested in learning how we at GMG moderate our social platforms? Take a look at our extra credit community and moderation guidelines here!Extra Credit: Guide to Moderating Comments

Professionalism on social media involves responding to negativity and criticism with grace and empathy. By distinguishing between critique and criticism and using moderation tools wisely, you can foster a positive online space for your gardening community. Embrace the challenges of navigating social and political issues, ensuring your brand's values shine through in your content. Regular account moderation is essential for maintaining a healthy and thriving community in your garden of social media.

Stay tuned for our next lesson to explore leveraging partnerships and affiliate relationships to grow your social media presence. 

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