4 Tips for Handling Negative Comments in Social Media

Having a strong social media presence is mandatory for brands these days. Along with that comes a direct line for consumers and fans to communicate with the brand, which can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can form relationships with your fans and hear feedback directly from them, serving almost as an instant focus group for the brand. On the other hand, it allows for negative feedback and backlash to take over your brand or put you in the spotlight in a bad way. There are several types of negative feedback – trolls, unhappy customers, PR crises – and today I’m going to focus on dealing with customers who aren’t happy. Here are four tips to always keep in mind when addressing negative comments from your customers

Don’t Take Them Personally

When you work on a brand you love, you sometimes feel like it’s your baby … and nobody likes when people are criticizing their baby. So, as a Community Manager, comments can feel like a personal attack. Always remember you’re representing the brand and not to let comments affect your personal feelings or cause you to react from a personal level. It’s easy to sound defensive and that’s not going to help diffuse a difficult situation- it will only make it worse. If a comment upsets you, step away from it for a few minutes, go vent to a trusted coworker, and then go back and respond. Otherwise, you might end up with something like this… #Yikes

Listen & Formulate an Empathetic Response

Sometimes when a person is complaining on your social channels, it’s more about them wanting to feel heard than anything else. When reacting to these negative comments, make sure you’re really understanding what they’re saying and why they’re so upset. You may not be able to provide the perfect solution for them, but being authentic in your answer and showing empathy will help them feel like you heard them and care about their problem. You should never be copying and pasting a response for these types of situations unless you’re legally required to.

Depending on the situation, you can even try using humor or colloquialisms to lighten the situation. Here are two great examples showing personality in response to negative comments. They’re very simple, but feel more authentic than the usual copy & paste response given for these types of situations.

Address Negative Comments Publicly Whenever Possible

The first reaction a lot of brands have to negative comments on their pages is to ignore them (or even worse, hide them) if there’s nothing they can do about it. While there may be some extreme circumstances where this is the right plan, most of the time not answering will only hurt your brand. Not only can you increase customer advocacy just by responding, but other people who are interested in your brand may be looking at your public responses to see how your brand’s customer service is. In fact, 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from brands that leave complaints unanswered in social. If you need to take it off channel or to private messages, make sure you leave a public response to their main comment so people can see that you’re addressing the comment, and not just ignoring it.

Provide a Solution on the Same Channel They Contacted You Through

People who contact you on social media are usually doing it for convenience. If they came there to get help and then you make them call customer service, chances are they’re not going to feel like it was a good experience. They know this is what’s waiting for them when they’re instructed to call…

So try to address their concerns on channel as much as possible. For example, if you get a Facebook message from someone complaining, it’s better to try to fix the situation through that message. This isn’t always possible, but taking the time to set up your Community Managers or Social Customer Care Team to have access to information that can help them address problems right on the channel will only help you and your customers. If you do have to refer them to another channel, think about ways you can go above and beyond to try to minimize the effects of the negative experience they’ve had with your brand. For example, if you send them to a customer care phone number, you could also send them a coupon to use for the future to help offset the inconvenience of making them call.

Overall, addressing negative comments in social media can be tricky, but following these four steps will help ensure your brand is providing customers with a positive experience that will keep them loyal to your brand.

If you’d like help managing your brand’s social customer care, contact us or check out our blog for more tips.

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