How to Deal With Negative Comments on Social Media

negative social media comments

When it comes to handling negative comments on social media, we’ve all seen examples of the good, the bad and the sometimes downright ugly ways brands deal with complaints.

Whether your business is offline, online or you’re thinking about bringing your offline business online, you probably already have some sort of online presence on social media (and if you haven’t, you really should!).

Having a social media presence comes with it’s disadvantages though. Not least when it comes to complaints. No one likes to be bad-mouthed in public but the quickest way to get a company’s attention if a customer feels they’ve received bad service is to publicly call the company out on it. How a company reacts to these complaints has a huge effect on their reputation, and therefore profits.

So, what is the best way to deal with these disgruntled customers?

We’ll outline below some dos and don’ts for dealing with negative comments on your social channels and how to turn a negative experience into a positive one, both for you and your customer.

Don’t take it personally

Criticism, no matter how justified, can be difficult to take. You work hard, putting in long hours, and you take pride in what you do.

Then someone complains publicly on social media and it’s like a kick in the teeth.

Whether the person complaining has a valid reason, they’re having a bad day, or they’re simply someone who enjoys moaning and it’s your turn to be on the receiving end that day, you need to take a step back, remember it’s nothing personal and quickly diffuse the situation and get the customer back on your side.

Do remember everyone can see how you respond

Social media is a public arena and how you deal with complaints will be viewed not just by the person making the complaint, but by your current and prospective customers too.

So, even if you feel you’ve been wronged, rise above it and remain polite and professional. Resist the urge to get defensive. Don’t turn a minor complaint into a spectator sport.

Don’t delete or ignore the complaint

By posting their complaint on social media customers have willingly thrown their frustration into the public domain. Deleting or ignoring their complaint will only further antagonize them so, no matter how tempting it is to stick your head in the sand and delete or ignore their comment, this will only make things worse and give them yet another reason to complain.

Deleting comments can also make it look like you only allow positive comments on your feed and may have something to hide.

To avoid looking insincere, allow negative comments to stay unless they’re abusive, in which case, the comment can be hidden. A handy feature of a hidden comment on Facebook is that the comment is hidden from everyone except the person who wrote it. They think their comment is there for all to see, but you know better. Win-win.

Do deal with it privately

Although deleting the complaint isn’t the way to go, dealing with the entirety of it publicly isn’t a good idea either.

For one thing, you don’t want an audience gathering, waiting for your next move, and dealing with it out in the open also gives the person making the complaint the attention they crave. Also, there may be personal details or order numbers that, for privacy and security issues, need to be obtained privately.

Simply respond to the comment by letting the person know you’re sorry to hear of the problems they’ve experienced but you need more details and you’ll send them a private message.

Don’t retaliate

You can think what you like about the person making the complaint, but keep it that way – in your head.

Yes, they may be totally in the wrong and making an unjustified complaint, but you need to remain calm and professional. If the person making the complaint is acting ridiculously, it’ll be obvious to anyone else who’s reading, and the comments won’t reflect badly on you.

A defensive or sarcastic response may get you new followers as people tune in to see what happens next, but they’re only there for entertainment – they’re not your target market or future sales.

There are brands with a marketing tactic of baiting customers but, unless you really want to portray yourself as having a Basil Fawlty persona, you’d be better off dealing with the situation in a more traditional way.

Do stay personable

Staying professional doesn’t mean coming across as an emotionless robot. Empathise with the person making the complaint, let them know you feel their frustration, and offer an apology and a solution.

Use your judgement to gauge whether humour is appropriate but use it sparingly and don’t go over the top. Be sure to personalise your reply by using their name and referring to something they said.

No one wants to see a thread full of copied and pasted standard messages regurgitating the same thing that sounds like it’s come from a robot.

In summary

Don’t:

  • take complaints personally
  • delete or ignore the complaint
  • retaliate or argue back

Do:

  • remember everyone can see how you respond
  • deal with it privately
  • stay personable

Keep the above in mind next time you’re faced with an angry customer and the complaint will be dealt with smoothly and to everyone’s satisfaction.

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