Posted on the 3rd August 2015

How to… Respond to negative comments on social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for building a personality for your brand. Engaging with people via Twitter and Facebook is a great way of building trust and brand awareness, directing traffic back to your website and increasing sales. One of the main reasons brands are reluctant to join social media channels however, is fear of receiving negative comments.

Every brand will receive negative comments from time to time, this may be due to a lapse in customer service or a product fault. But dealing with negative comments as a business isn’t as daunting as you might think.

Putting a protocol in place

So you’ve got your social media assets ready, your Twitter tone of voice is in the bag and you’ve got reams of content to share on social, but before you go live, make sure you have a protocol document in place.

Your protocol document should include your login details, set out who is responsible for drafting, approving and scheduling posts as well as pre-approved responses to likely comments, both positive and negative. It should also indicate the timescale in which you should respond – this will depend on resources, but always aim for within two working days.

What to do when you receive a negative comment on social media

There are a number of options: ignore it, delete it or just say ‘sorry’ – but none of these will boost your brand reputation. Particularly if the comment is a genuine complaint or problem with one of your products or services.

Yes, it’s tempting to ignore or delete a serious complaint, but don’t. A complaint is an opportunity for your brand to act responsibly and demonstrate great customer service. But you need to do more than just say ‘sorry’ otherwise the complainant is only going to respond with; ‘great, but what you gonna do about it?’

Example 1: “@examplebiz your delivery was late and then when I opened the box my product was damaged #rubbishservice #refundwanted”

If you receive a negative comment like this one acknowledge it with an apology and then take the complaint offline. For example, provide an email address or telephone number to contact or ask for a direct message for more details. This way you’ve demonstrated that you are listening and provided a solution. Once the issue is resolved offline you might be lucky, the person that complained publically might also thank you publically – but never ask them to do this!

Example 2: “@examplebiz your website is down AGAIN #frustrated”

If you’re experiencing several complaints about the same thing, such as your website being down, post regular updates explaining that you are aware of the issue and working to fix it. Where possible offer an alternative number and of course, let everyone know when you are back up and running.

Example 3: “@examplebiz your products are soooooo expensive!”

You are not forced to respond to every negative comment, particularly if the complaint is more subjective than objective. If your products are relatively expensive because they are high quality items then proactively reinforce this message in your brand updates rather than responding directly. You might also find other fans and followers might stick up for your brand on your behalf by responding to comments like this.

If you’re still nervous about the world of social media, have any questions or would like some support, feel free to get in touch.