How to cope with negative comments on your brand's social media

13 April 2017

How to cope with negative comments on your brand's social media

Negative comments can really hurt, whether they’re fair or unfair. They are, however, a fact of life in the real world and most definitely in the online one. Here are five tips on how to deal with them.

1. Sit on your hands and take a deep breath (or several)

You should work on the assumption that anything you post online has the potential to go viral. However upset you might be, however unwarranted you think the comment is, you have to respond politely and professionally and if that means waiting a while until you’re calm enough to do so, then take that time, it’s worth it.

2. Stop feeling and start thinking

See what actual information there is in the message and, if need be, have a look at the person’s profile and their previous posts. Basically, you’re trying to find out who they are, what the problem is and how you should respond to it. If there’s insufficient information, then ask for more. Depending on the context, it may be appropriate to suggest that they move to another communication channel, for example if you need account information and/or personal details to resolve their problem.

3. Respond tactfully and politely and if you are at fault, apologise

There are very few hard-and-fast rules about responding to negative comments. Much depends on the individual situation. Tact and politeness, however, are a must, even if you’re convinced you’re dealing with an out-and-out troll. Refuse to let yourself be drawn down to their level. If the customer is complaining about a policy, then give an explanation of why you have the policy, e.g. it’s a legal obligation. If the customer has had a specific problem and there’s nothing you can do to fix it, then explain why you think it was a one off or what you’re going to do to stop it happening in future and how long it will take. If the customer’s problem is ongoing, take ownership of resolving it.

4. Set and meet expectations

It’s an old piece of customer service advice, but it’s still very true. If you tell someone you’ll get back to them by a certain time or date then make sure you do, even if you are still working on it, tell them what you’re doing. Customers need to feel like they can trust you and if you fail to make good on a basic promise, like responding to them within a certain time, why should they trust you with anything else?

5. Never just ignore it and hope it will go away

Deleting negative comments or ignoring angry tweets will do your reputation no good at all. Even if you believe somebody is being unreasonable, you need to work with them and deal with their complaint if you want to avoid accusations of censorship or control freakery, on top of everything else.