No one likes negativity, especially when it is in a public domain like social media, and it’s about your business.
You know the drill, you’ve been nailing it on your social media platforms, posting awesome content that is resonating with your community and generating great engagement, until one day a post either annoys someone and they react with a negative comment or a community member posts a negative complaint. The simplest thing to do would be to ignore it and put it down to your follower having a bad day, right? But what happens if another member jumps in and agrees with them, or worse still, the original poster takes offence at being ignored and escalates the vitriol by posting another negative comment? All of a sudden you have a negative conversation going on around your brand and more and more people are seeing it.
So what’s the best way to handle negative feedback on social media?
1. Deal with it
Without a doubt, the number one rule is to deal with it, no matter what. But how you deal with it should be influenced by the post.
If the person posts directly to your newsfeed with a complaint, respond with a ‘thank you for your feedback’, address the issue if you can and direct them to contact you directly either via a phone number or email address so a resolution can be discussed – take it offline.
However, if a community member posts a truly offensive comment in response to something you or another community member has posted the first step is to remove the comment from the comments thread, either by hiding the post which will still make it visible to the original poster, or deleting it altogether. If you delete it, post back into the thread as the page administrator to state why you have removed the comment. Hopefully you have community ‘rules of engagement’ stated on your social media page (such as in the About section on Facebook is a good idea) that you can refer to, or on your website – for example ‘Thanks for being involved with our Facebook community [insert name], but I have removed your post due to it going against our ‘rules of engagement’ for this community. If you are unfamiliar with our rules of engagement, you can find them here [include a link to the rules of engagment].’
2. Diffuse it
Don’t get defensive and blame the consumer – ever. Regardless of where the fault lies, whilst you are dealing with this in a public forum, apologise and either offer to talk to the customer directly so you can resolve the issue out of the social media community spotlight or advise them of how you are going to manage the situation. Your end goal here is to make an angry person happy, hopefully, happy enough that they will jump back onto the same social media platform and sing your praises.
3. Delegate it
By delegate, I don’t mean hand it over completely for someone else to sort out. Often, due to the very nature of social media, the community will jump in and respond to help rectify the problem, allowing you to essentially delegate the problem to the community to fix. This is brilliant if the complaint is something simple about your product or service and can be fixed with a quick response. This is not so great if the negative comments are offensive, as mentioned above because multiple comments and commenters can often escalate the issue into an argument. If you go down this route, it’s a good idea to monitor the community comments and jump in if you feel like it’s getting off track. It pays to also jump in and thank community members for their answers, particularly if they have solved the issue.
On a final note
Social media, when running smoothly is a fantastic platform for connecting with your community, and as a result it is common for businesses to overlook the potential for things to go awry. If you are going to engage with social media to market and promote your business it’s a good idea to develop a social media crisis strategy together with rules of engagement. Not only is this a good way for business owners to manage their communities, it is also a great way to help internal staff understand the process and rules around the company’s social media activity.
Do you have any examples or ideas on how to manage negative feedback on social media? We’d love to hear from you.