Social media is great at connecting businesses and customers. It can also increase sales and generate website traffic. But no matter how much your customers like you, someone will inevitably leave you with a negative social media comment. Your response to comments like these will affect your reputation – for better, or for worse. To learn what to do about negative social media comments, read our advice below on how to handle them.
The nature of negative social media comments
Most negative social media comments come from frustrated customers. These are customers who have been unable to solve their problem through your customer service department. Feeling frustrated and helpless, these customers turn to social media as a last resort. They know that a public airing of their grievances is a sure-fire way to grab your attention.
The nature of the game here is to be sympathetic, friendly and helpful. Show that your company is approachable and human. After all, social media is the human side of your branding. And don’t ignore or delete negative comments, however tempted you are. Negative comments are an opportunity to show how much you value your customers.
When the complaint is about something that was your fault
When a user complains about something that was your fault, then sympathise, apologise and admit your mistake. The user will respect you for tackling the issue head on. You could even offer a gift as recompense.
When the complaint is about something that wasn’t your fault
If a user complains about something that was not your fault, then you should still be sympathetic and apologise. In your response, also try to explain why the problem occurred, and give a solution. Don’t become angry at the user, because this will make you seem unprofessional and petty.
When the problem is fictitious
Not everyone using the internet is honest. Some people write fake and malicious comments just to sabotage companies’ reputations. A good response here is to point out the person’s inaccuracies with facts. As long as you are honest, other users will believe your side of the story.
You will also need to be wary of internet “trolls”. These are users who post inflammatory messages just to upset you. Don’t ignore them, but don’t send an angry message reply, because that’s exactly what the troll wants. Instead, respond with facts or humour. For example, when one troll tweeted, “Dear Sainsbury’s. The chicken in my sandwich tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan.”, Sainsbury’s replied, “Really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch. We will replace Mr. Hogan with Ultimate Warrior on our production line immediately.”
Whatever the nature of the comment, your reaction needs to be timely and honest. But one last piece of advice: whatever you do, don’t use the same generic reply every time. Otherwise, it will give the impression that you don’t care about users’ feedback.