3 Tips for Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

Social media has fundamentally changed how consumers interact with companies. It’s made it easy for customers to learn about your business and get fast answers to questions about your products or services.

However, it has also become a forum for consumers to voice their complaints when they have a negative experience with your service and your company. According to a new survey conducted by branding and marketing strategy firm Corra, 83.4 percent of social media users surveyed say they have complained about bad experiences with businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media platforms.

To think you’ll be able to keep everyone happy at all times is unrealistic. Sometimes negative comments will inevitably find their way onto your business’ social media pages. How you handle the negative feedback will determine whether you lose customers or use the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. The tone of voice that you choose to respond with will also shape the mindset of future customers who view your online presence.

Addressing negative comments on your social media pages is never easy. But the following three tips can help you navigate this difficult situation and help you turn negative feedback into a positive outcome for you and your clients.

1. Create a Process

Before setting up your business’s social media profiles, you should create a standard process for responding to negative comments. Document your process and make it part of the policies provided to the person responsible for moderating your social media accounts. This process is an important part of recognizing who the issue should be directed to. And remember, your principal objective should always be addressing the issue that caused the negative comment rather than the comment itself.

2. Respond Quickly

According to Convince and Convert, 42 percent of consumers who complain on social media expect a response in under 60 minutes. As a result, consumers are often more impressed with a prompt response than with an actual solution to their problem. And because word travels quickly on social media, a timely reply will help preserve your company’s reputation when negative feedback arises. As Daniel Kushner, CEO of Oktopost explains, “When people reach out to you on social media and receive satisfying and fast responses, their feelings of connection to your company are heightened, and they’re far more likely to make purchases from you and even recommend you to their friends.”

To help you create a quick response, develop a library of approved language and create a general response template for negative feedback. The template should include:

  • A personal introduction of yourself or the person responding
  • A reference from the respondent’s comment that acknowledges their specific problem
  • Appreciation for bringing the concern to your attention
  • Links to any resource(s) that may help solve their problem
  • Assurance that the problem will be resolved as quickly as possible

Respond publicly to the comment in question, but be sure to follow up more extensively with the person via private or direct message as well so you can continue to resolve their problem.

3. Respond with Understanding

People often complain because they want to be acknowledged. Typically, they are not looking to issue a personal attack on you or your business. When sending a personal message to this person, adopt a tone of patience and understanding. Remember that, ultimately, most people are quick to forgive if treated well. In a world in which people are connecting with businesses online more and more, they are searching for brands that have a human, personal side. The brand that offers this level of online customer service will often gain more respect and loyalty despite an isolated negative experience a consumer may have had.

Remember, negative comments on social media are inevitable. Don’t seek to avoid them—instead, recognize them as opportunities to turn an adverse circumstance into something positive. If you use these three steps to engage with your audience on social media when negative comments arise, your client relationships will inevitably grow stronger.