It’s the stuff of nightmares for small business owners. After spending so much time carefully cultivating your social media presence, your feed is suddenly spoiled by a negative comment.
What do you do? How do you deal with it?
Do you just hit ‘delete’ and forget it ever happened?
While it’s tempting to delete and move on, that will not serve you well in the long run. Nowadays, social media is a direct line between your business and your customers. It’s a platform where potential customers ask you questions and where existing customers can sing your praises.
Immediately shutting down that connection due to a negative comment is not a good look for any business. It sends a message that you’re not willing to hear customer feedback, eroding trust with your customers.
So what do you do?
Next time you face a negative social media comment, take a deep breath and try out these strategies, designed to effectively counter any negative public feedback.
Develop a Social Media Policy
If you don’t already have a social media policy, it’s time to develop one. The process of developing a specific social media policy helps in a number of ways. First off, it organises your external voice and sets your communication values across your business, ensuring consistency and purpose in your messaging.
Second, your social media policy should also include strategies for dealing with any negativity across your social platforms. Thinking about this in advance, when you’re not stressed, angry or disappointed about receiving negative feedback, will ensure you come up with calm, measured and effective ways to counter negative social media comments.
Some strategies you can use to effectively deal with negative comments include:
Respond quickly – it’s important to get onto the comment as soon as you can. If you deal with the issue quickly, it will demonstrate you’re willing to listen to your customers and respond to their concerns. As a rule of thumb, most customers will expect a response within 60 minutes.
Acknowledge the problem – ignoring the comment won’t make it go away and arguing with the customer will only make things worse. Even if you don’t agree with their statement, saying something simple like “thank you for your feedback” will help defuse the situation.
Offer a personal solution – if the issue raised is complex, personal or something you can’t resolve immediately, message the customer and offer to talk it over with them over email or phone. This shows that you are willing to work with them to find a solution.
Take it offline – if things are escalating online, it’s time to take the discussion offline. Give them the attention they need but make it clear this is something that can only be resolved offline. There’s no need to play it all out online for everyone to see, especially if things are getting ugly.
Be human – remain respectful and explain your side of the issue. Add a human touch to your messaging, empathising with their point of view, saying something like, “sorry you had a bad experience, we always strive to do our best and will do our best to resolve this issue for you.”
Watch out for trolls – if the complainant is a deliberate trouble maker, don’t engage (it’s best not to feed the trolls). However, you need to keep these type of people in your line of sight and screenshot their comments. If the trolling continues, block them and delete their comments, explaining that their behaviour is a breach of your social media policy.
Monitor feedback – use Google Alerts to monitor feedback across the web and keep an eye on your online reputation. Enter a search term, such as your company name, and Google Alerts will trawl the web for a match, emailing you with any results. It’s quick, easy and effective.
You already know that social media is a valuable way to engage directly with your customers. Most of the time, it will be a positive experience for everyone. However, when you do receive negative feedback (and it’s a ‘when,’ not an ‘if’) you need to be prepared to deal with it.
If you deal with the issue quickly and respond appropriately, it won’t be a major disaster. Answer your customers, connect with them and show each customer that you genuinely care about their feedback.
Remember, receiving a negative social media comment doesn’t have to be the stuff of nightmares, especially if you’re prepared in advance with effective counter-measures!
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