How to deal with negative feedback on social media

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We’ve all heard the fairy tales with a malicious troll residing underneath a bridge. You know, that demonic figure that lurks underneath your pathway, when you’re trying to get from A to B. These trolls never actually existed (we hope). But today, in the real world, we have many trolls. Living, breathing, monsters who hide under the many bridges online, spitting venom at unsuspecting - and often innocent - social media users.

If you have a public social media profile, by default, you are opening yourself up to the world. In the majority of instances, especially in personal accounts, positive interactions occur with your circle and a more condensed, wider population. However, running a business account on social media can make or break a company.

Customers or users can interact with each other and create a positive or negative image for your company or personal brand. A bad review or comment on social media could have a big impact on your company. From the vicious to the banal, we are going to show you how to deal with negative feedback on social media.

Don’t take it personally
If you’re receiving negative feedback to your business profile, remember that their comments are not personal to you, but to a product or service, your company offers. The internet has made this process a whole lot easier for the everyday consumer, who consequently has high expectations, with 42% of complainers expecting a response within 60 minutes. This attitude of expecting a close-to-instant response can cause some users to turn nasty. This is pretty daunting, as their post can be seen by everyone. And from the second they press ‘comment’, the timer starts.

Breathe. We know it can be anxiety-inducing, as it would be if you were being shouted at in person - but in front of the world. Keep your professionalism very close to your heart in your response and never stoop to their level if they have used profanities. If they go low, you go high.

And remember - verbal abuse or threats if ever received should be reported, not responded too and the account should be blocked.

As an admin on a business social media profile, you have the power
You can diminish the potential places that negative comments can be posted on your business profile by disabling posts to the page. This is not a sneaky option. It is the done thing for numerous businesses. It still enables users to comment on posts that you make on the page, which are easier to monitor from an administrative perspective.

On a business profile, it’s essential that you respond to all feedback - negative and positive! There can be dips in responses over the weekend but during the week it should be a priority to respond to customer comments as they come in. Your competitors are doing it and you should too.

BUT if the struggle is real - then make it very obvious when you're available to respond to online complaints and where people should really go to ask for help. Push to take the conversation private.

In the digital world, there are numerous ways that negative feedback can be dealt with:

1. Restate the complaint, apologise, propose an action and take it off the timeline. For example:

@AngryCustomer: “Can’t believe that my app has crashed, AGAIN!! @YourCompany. Seriously unacceptable”

@YourCompany: “We’re really sorry to hear that, @AngryCustomer. Please let us know what device you’re using in a DM and we’ll follow this up for you.”

2. Wrap up the complaint in positive comments about your business:

@YourCompany: “After hitting 2M downloads and 1.5M active users, our servers can get pretty busy! Would you mind dropping us a DM, @AngryCustomer, and we can look into this for you?”

3. Keep it light.

Humour is one of the best ways to handle trolls and negative feedback on social media. We’re sure that you have seen the responses from companies such as Tesco and Greggs, which have subsequently gone viral.

Social media audiences derive huge enjoyment from companies responding wittily to criticism, which turns the tables on the complaint and drives positive brand awareness to the company. By making light of the comments from the troll, their fire is acknowledged and extinguished.

But, we never advise our readers to play with fire. Be careful with this step and tread carefully following others. It’s crazy out there!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!