Tips for dealing with negative feedback on social media

One of the most common concerns we hear from companies that are thinking about starting a social media campaign is how to deal with negative feedback. Understandably, businesses do not want to damage their reputations, and the potential for people to publicly complain about their products or services on social networks often intimidates even the biggest brands. To help your business improve its online strategy, our digital agency has put together these tips on how to deal with negative feedback on social media.

Be prepared
Whether you are an internationally recognised brand or a small local business, negative feedback is inevitable, and yes it can make its way to social media. The key is to be prepared and know how your company will respond to it. Many businesses have a customer service protocol in place for telephone or email enquiries, and there is no reason this can’t be amended to fit in with their social media policies. Preparation is a first step to a quick response and will have you well on your way to resolving the situation.

Always respond
Many companies shy away from social media complaints rather than shine the spotlight on them for more people to see. That is the worst strategy to have. A person who writes to a brand expects a response and 50% of social media users will stop doing business with a brand that doesn’t respond to them within a week. Keep in mind that if they are complaining about your business, then they are currently your customers and there is no reason you can’t keep them if you handle the situation properly. Thank them for their valuable feedback, address their concern and inform them of how you will resolve the problem.

Use the public forum to your advantage
If one customer is having a problem then chances there are others out there with the same issue. Responding to negative feedback on your social media profile will show all your customers that you are aware of the problem and are working towards a solution.

Stay professional
It’s so easy to think of social media as a more casual marketing platform, and while this can be true in terms of the tone of voice used, businesses still need to maintain a professional response when addressing complaints. Don’t lose your temper or say anything that could damage your reputation as a respectable company, no matter how upsetting the complaint was.

Don’t delete the comment!
As easy as it seems to simply delete a negative comment from your Facebook page, don’t do it. The person who posted it will notice that their comment was taken down, and it will most likely provoke them even more. Not only that, but if others find out you’ve deleted a person’s comment they’ll start to question why you won’t address the complaint and the issue might snowball into something much larger than it needed to be.

Don’t cut and paste a response
We see this all the time, particularly with famous brands that are facing a large backlash for a news story that was just released about them. Instead of writing a response to each complaint, they cut and paste the same answer, frustrating their social media followers and making the brand look ill-prepared. If you do find yourself in a situation where thousands of people are complaining about a single issue that has just made the news, we would recommend writing several status updates addressing that issue, each of which is written differently and addresses a separate point of the issue. It would also be useful to write a full statement on your website and direct people to that for more information. Also consider responding to a conversation instead of individual users, so you can reduce the amount of responses you need to write.

Make it private
If the complaint warrants more information or a further discussion, encourage the user to send you a private message with more details. Most social networks have some sort of private messaging service which will allow you to have a longer conversation about the problem without involving all your social media followers.

Businesses that use social media for customer service as well as a marketing tool will find a much better result than those that don’t. Conversations about your brand are going to happen whether or not you are on social media, so join in on the conversation so an official response can be given to any negative feedback. While it may be an intimidating task, social media is generally a positive experience and companies that do give it a try soon realise it’s worth the effort.

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