Skills & Expertise

5 Steps for Responding to Negative Social Media Comments

The do’s and don’ts of keeping followers happy online

Instead of calling the support line, a customer posted a complaint on your Facebook page. A negative, angry, very public complaint. What do you do? Only one in seven companies have a strategy in place for utilizing social media for their business plan—and there’s a good chance you’re in the majority. Whether you’re managing social media for your client, or you are the client, there are actions you can take to simmer any negative buzz on your social pages. Follow these five steps for responding to negative comments or reviews on social media.

1) Don’t hide or delete comments

You know what’s worse than the actual negative comment? Hiding or deleting it. You can guarantee your upset customer will come back louder, angrier and 10 times more frustrated than they were before. By deleting, you’ve expressed you do not care about salvaging the relationship and making things right.

Nobody is perfect, so when customers come to your social media profiles, they expect to read the occasional less-than-stellar comment or review. If all you display on your pages are positive opinions and praises about your product or service, users will likely think you’ve bribed your employees to sing your praises on social media. (Or, of course, that you delete all negative comments.)

The only—and I mean the only—time you should remove a comment is when you are 100% sure someone is trolling your page. If someone is abusing your page and making outlandish or offensive remarks, you have the green light to delete. Internet trolls are exempt from the rules of social media etiquette 101.

2) Say, “Thank you”

Start off your message with a simple, “Thank you.” Even if the user’s comment is negative and aggressive, you should thank them for their feedback and for reaching out. Don’t be too formal and remember, all feedback is valuable.

3) Respond to everything and keep it short

Your team should develop a process for how to respond to every social engagement on every social channel. It can be as simple as following a guide or giving one person the responsibility for handling social media customer service. Once you receive a comment, it’s important to respond, keep it short and respond back in two hours or less. When users voice their concerns online, they want to be acknowledged and offered a plan of action for resolution. Even if the response is that you’re following up and will get back to them, share the information quickly to appease your commenters.

4) Provide another outlet to vent

The most important element of responding to negative social media comments is to take the conversation out of the public eye as quickly as you can. Include a support email or phone number in your initial response to the consumer. Make sure the email or phone number you provide is frequently monitored by a team member. Sending them to an email inbox that no one checks—not so great. If an angry customer is unsuccessful at getting in contact with your business through this outlet, they will then take their frustrations right back to social media for everyone to see. (And this time, they’ll be angrier.)

5) Sometimes it’s okay to say, “We’re sorry”

Because sometimes it’s your fault. Whether it’s a miscommunication, internal error or company offense, sometimes the first step you should take is to accept blame (quickly—speed is key here) and say you’re sorry. When you’re apologizing, keep it short and sincere. Fess up, acknowledge those who were affected and say, “I’m sorry.” Avoid becoming a robot, though. It’s important to remain real – sincerity humanizes your brand and company image. Authenticity also helps you rebuild brand loyalty.

Negative social media comments are part of the social media game—and honestly, customers like to be heard. Keep these five steps in mind when responding to negative comments on your pages. Be sincere, authentic and helpful. You’ll only strengthen brand loyalty and keep your company’s reputation a positive one.

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