Social media is full of what the kids like to call “trolls.” You know, those rude people that thrive off of putting other people and businesses down (they’re not the cute little Trollz with big hair who sing and dance in the movies).
Well, I’m sure every business has encountered at least one of these individuals on social media, leaving negative comments on your tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram images. How rude!
Unfortunately, they do pop up from time to time, from unhappy customers who express their anger or discontent within the comments of your content.
Knowing how to respond to these negative social media comments is a necessity in your business, and your response can harshly impact your company image if done so incorrectly. A successful social media marketing strategy must consider what to do when negative comments roll around.
Responding correctly can help turn a negative into a positive, while not responding properly can only make things worse. Start responding to negative comments like a pro with these simple dos and don’ts.
The Dos and Don’ts of Responding to Negative Social Comments
DO: Respond in a Timely Manner.
The last thing someone wants when they are upset or angry is to be ignored. They posted something because they want to be heard and they want a reaction.
Responding to negative messages as soon as possible shows that you care about what they have to say. By addressing their concerns directly, you have the opportunity to change their mind about your company.
Also, by responding, you are showing other followers that you acknowledge these issues and care about them. It shows them that you’re there to make things right if they have issues. Ignoring them conveys the opposite!
Plenty of airlines are quick to respond to unhappy customers whose flights get delayed or cancelled. Even if there isn’t much you can do, actively addressing their concerns can ease the tension even a little bit.
DON’T: Lose Your Cool.
The saying “the customer is always right” should always apply in your response to negative social media comments.
Once the message is out, all eyes turn to your business as followers wait for a reply, and your other happy customers can see how you handle the feedback. It’s important to remain professional; it can be easy to get caught up in social media feuds between celebrities, but remember that you aren’t them – you are a business.
Responding inappropriately will tarnish your brand’s image and not only upset the person who left the negative comment, but you it will also look bad to anyone else who sees it, especially if the message is taken out of context. Losing your cool will only make your situation worse and cost you the opportunity to turn the negative into a positive.
DO: Take the Conversation Offline.
Just because you responded to a negative comment, it doesn’t mean that you need to go back and forth publicly on your social media page.
When you respond to the comment, try to encourage the user to transition the conversation to a more private place, like in the direct messages of the social network the negative comment came from.
For example, you could say something like “Hi Sue, We’re so sorry to hear about your negative experience with our product. Could you please private message us with details about your experience and contact information so customer service can contact you directly and work something out together?”
Moving it to a private conversation will prevent others from seeing further details on the situation. If you already have the user’s contact information, comment back letting them know that someone will contact them about their situation and reach out to solve the issue at hand.
Yes, some people who write negative comments are just looking for attention, but moving the conversation to a private setting will keep them from drawing more negative attention to your site.
DON’T: Delete the Comment (With Exceptions).
The worst thing you can do when someone has left a negative post on your social media page is delete it. If they realize you deleted it, they might get even more upset with your company. To lash out once more, they may decide to repost it and call you out for deleting it, or then post something in another location that you aren’t able to delete.
Deleting comments can also make it look like you don’t care, are wrong in the situation, or have something to hide.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If an individual continues to post and harass/spam your page, you may decide to delete their messages or block them from the page all together.
On Facebook, you are able to moderate comments to exclude any posts or comments including any certain words from displaying on your page. This is a customizable feature that you can set how you like.
You are also able to set a profanity filter to off, medium, or strong, which enables your business to block profanity from your Page and to what degree.
If, for some reason, you come across any threatening messages, you may choose to report the message. Almost all social platforms have this function available for your safety.
DO: Personalize Your Message.
If you have information about your customer in your CRM, then use it to make your response more personal. This is just another way to show that you care about what they have to say and they won’t feel like your comment is just an automated response.
If they have included information in their negative post, then mention it in your response, which shows that you took the time to read what they had to say. Another way to make it personal is to sign your name at the end of your response, so they see that a real human is making the effort to reach out to them and not just hide behind a company page.
DON'T: Make the Same Generic Response to Every Comment.
Your responses to negative comments should never be cut and paste. Once people start noticing that unhappy comments receive the same message in reply, it will only make your company seem insincere and inauthentic.
As with any message you post publicly to your audience, you need to highlight that you care. If you communicate to your customers in the exact same way every single time, you will tarnish your brand identity.
DO: Monitor All Your Comments.
In order to find those pesky negative comments, you must actually pay attention to all the comments that come through your social feeds.
Whoever is in charge of your company's social accounts – whether it be a social media coordinator, marketing manager, etc. – make sure they set aside five to 10 minutes every other hour to monitor the engagement on your social channels.
They should skim through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter comments to spot any messages that might require an immediate response. Like mentioned before, it's important to be timely when responding to negative comments so users don't feel forgotten.
DON'T: Forget to Acknowledge the Positive Comments!
Never forget about the positive comments! While responding to negative comments is imperative to maintaining your brand's reputation, responding to positive comments allows you to express gratitude toward those who adore your brand.
These happy customers are your biggest fans, and they aren't afraid to share about it. Give them a shoutout, share their message, and personally thank them for their kind words and business.
There you have it: the dos and don’ts of responding to negative social media comments. Next time you receive negative comments on one of your pages, make sure you respond in a way that can turn the situation around in a positive way!
Don't lose sight of who your brand is and what you stand for – let that shine through every engagement you have with your customers and social media followers, and they'll know that you care about them. Even a negative experience can be fixed with the right response and solution.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018. It was updated in December 2018 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.