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Managing negative social media for your business

Connecting and engaging with clients, potential customers and fans is a great way to show the human side of your brand and establish trust and loyalty. But how you engage with negative comments on your social media channels is arguably just as important as fostering community discussion and posting winning campaigns. So, how do you go about it? We’ve rounded-up the best advice from around the web to answer just that.

 

DO respond immediately

Social media is a time-sensitive platform. You should reply within 24 hours, so the customer doesn’t feel they’re being ignored and escalate their complaint with a barrage of negative feedback, which can risk being caught by other people.

 

DO show you’re really listening

Listening before you respond shows other visitors to your social media platforms that you care and take complaints seriously.

“The corporate world frequently forgets that it’s actually okay to be human and to communicate in a humane way with people — and doing so will win over people more than cold, sterile communications,” say Marketingland.com.

Respond generously and professionally, to both valid and unreasonable comments, and you’ll improve your image to other potential customers.

 

DO reply on the same platform

But take it offline if necessary. “If a comment is particularly nasty or, based on the initial comment, you expect their follow-up to your response to be worse, leave a public message asking them to connect with you via message, email or by phone so that you can better help resolve their issue,” suggest social media agency Metamend.com.

This ensures that the worst of the negativity is hidden from the public eye, but still shows other potential customers that you are dealing with the complaint.

 

DO hide comments in case of ‘trolling’

If your Facebook page is being plagued by inflammatory, off-topic or unnecessary comments, it’s okay to hide the comment from public view. It’s not a good idea to delete the comment, as this may just encourage the commenter to escalate their trolling behaviour. Hiding it instead means that the public can’t see it, but the commenter can still see it. Hovering your mouse over the ‘x’ button the comment allows you to do this.

 

DO deal with the route of the problem

“For every customer who complains, there are many more equally disappointed customers who don’t bother to communicate with you,” say Brightbluewave.com. “Each complaint should be considered important, because the problem is likely more widespread than a single occurrence.”

 

DO view it as an opportunity

It’s possible to turn your negative comments on social media into a marketing opportunity if you handle it correctly.

People pay attention to negative posts; and when dealt with appropriately, these comments offer your company the chance to gain you not one loyal customer, but many.

 

DO offer an incentive

This is one of the best ways to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one, according to socialbeat.com. Especially if this is their first complaint, you can offer a gesture of goodwill such as vouchers, a discount code, or whatever seems appropriate.

 

DON’T ignore comments

This can only serve to exacerbate the problem, even if only starts out as a small complaint. Seeksocialmedia.com warn: “It only serves to anger the customer more and give them cause to react by telling ALL of their friends how awful your company and its employees are.  It’s important to note that the average Facebook and Twitter user has 100+ friends and followers, so a complaint from one or even a few customers can grow exponentially, costing you customers you didn’t even have yet.”

 

DON’T get angry and retaliate in kind

This will also just serve to worsen the situation and make you look unprofessional – remember that however you choose to respond to complaints online, you’re not the only one who will be privy to the exchange and even if you can’t win back the goodwill of the complainer, your response will affect how your other customers view your business. Digital Ink suggest to: “Avoid getting heated or challenging the reviewer as that will only agitate them and the situation even further. Even if you don’t believe or agree with what they’re saying, remember that they have the right to voice their opinion and you have the obligation to hear them out.

 

DON’T give an insincere apology

This doesn’t solve the problem and again gives the impression that you don’t care. According to digitalink.com: “When you’re ready to issue your formal apology, be sure to avoid using language that places the blame elsewhere, especially back onto the customer. In other words, don’t say things like: “I’m sorry you feel that way”; “I apologize if you were offended”; “mistakes were made by all parties involved”.

Copying and pasting responses to previous complaints is a particularly bad way of dealing with the situation. Customers read your other responses too, especially if they have had a negative experience themselves. Copying and pasting a response from another post, even if the issue is similar, can be perceived as your business not having the time of day for its customers.

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