Responding to negative comments on social media

Social media is a key part of your company’s marketing strategy. It allows a direct, personal conversation between you and your target audience, where you can listen, create engagement and build trust.

As we become more technology-focused than ever, people are going to social media when they have an issue or complaint about a company’s service, with surveys suggesting one in every two millennials has complained about a brand on social media.

Whether directly on your page or not, these comments are visible to a wide audience and could potentially have an impact on your brand’s reputation.

Every company will be faced with negative feedback at one point or another. Even when careful to avoid mistakes, you may be faced with factors outside your control that affect your services, or a message you post can be perceived in ways you couldn’t predict.

This is why it’s crucial, alongside preparing your regular social media posts, to plan for negative feedback. We’ve put together some advice for responding to negative comments on social media, to ensure both existing and potential customers see the best side of your brand. 

1. Acknowledge the complaint

The most important advice for dealing with negative comments or complaints is simply to respond. For someone reporting a problem, the most frustrating thing is to be ignored by the company.

Panic can sometimes cause brands to delete negative comments. While initially stopping more people from seeing the complaint, you may prompt the person to angrily comment again or move to areas where the post cannot be deleted.

A complaint doesn’t have to be a threat – it’s an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Evidence has shown that while ignoring a social media complaint can damage your image, answering them can increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%.

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2. Demonstrate a quick response

One survey shows over 80% of consumers expect a response to social media questions and complaints on the same day, but the faster the response, the better.

You don’t have to solve the problem straight away – but making contact and engaging with the user shows them and others that you care about resolving the issue.

Notifications for comments and mentions are invaluable. In some situations, a complaint on social media could even be the first indication of a problem you need to fix, like a website bug or a mistake in a service.

3. Get out of the spotlight

Decide when to take a conversation off the public space – moving it to a direct message, a phone call or an email.

It’s good to provide an apology or sympathy to the issue in your initial response. Similarly, requests for further information or promises to follow-up show that you’re dedicated to resolving the issue.

As a rule of thumb, if a solution will take more than two messages, or the exchange of personal information, it’s time to move to a more private sphere.

Of course, if you’re receiving multiple complaints, or if you’ve accidentally offended with a post, it may be important to make a public apology and indication of exactly how you will fix a problem. Crisis management can help in these situations to protect your reputation or restore trust in your company.

4. Plan and personalise

It’s a good idea to plan for negative comments and even have a set of instructions for responding. This can form part of your communications plan and will make sure your messages stay consistent across your social media, website and other communications.

This includes who will respond, what to say, a target response time, and when a conversation should be moved to messages.

However, it could be frustrating for a client to receive an automated message that doesn’t appear to address their situation. Take the time to personalise your response, acknowledging their problem and identifying explanations or solutions.

If you can, use the person’s name in your response, this is a simple way to show an extra level of care.

5. Keep track of rogue complaints

A user commenting on your page or tagging you in a post with a complaint is a great opportunity to show your timely response. But you could be missing complaints that don’t explicitly tag your company.

Actively checking for rogue complaints and responding to them allows you to fix problems and track your audience’s satisfaction. Plus, it demonstrates the vigilance of your approach to problems.

Search for and track relevant terms on social media: names of your company or certain products services, common misspellings and nicknames of your brand.

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Negative comments and complaints on social media are to be expected. While they propose a risk to your brand’s reputation, with quick and careful responses, they can turn a negative experience around and demonstrate real application of your company values.

Read more about marketing your business on social media on our blog. For further guidance on responding to negative comments, get in touch with the form below.

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