Responding to Negative Social Media

It’s been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Obviously, that statement was made well before the advent of social media.

The digital world provides everyone with a microphone as well as a stage, which can be a great thing for a business. Word of mouth – recommendations and reviews from family and friends as well as complete strangers – is one of the most valuable methods of attracting young consumers, according to a 2018 study by J.D. Powers.

However, that coin has a flip side. While social media provides a soapbox from which your praises can be sung, it also serves as a Colosseum for the slings and arrows of your critics – and you have to be as tough and tempered as a gladiator to make it out of the arena intact.

No one enjoys criticism, especially if it isn’t constructive, but the kneejerk response is to go on the defensive; which is precisely the wrong thing to do. There are plenty of horror stories illustrating how businesses responding poorly to the tiny ripple of a negative social media critique can be met with a backlash typhoon.

So, what should you do? The first step is to get some thick skin – don’t take things so personally because it will only cause an escalation of the situation. Deleting or removing negative comments could also intensify the issue. Many times, a negative comment stems from someone just trying to bring attention to a problem he or she may have encountered. It’s important to listen to what is being said and acknowledge that the person raising the issue has been heard.

Acknowledging that someone has been heard means responding, which should be done as quickly as possible. Delaying a response or simply ignoring the issue only allows wounds to fester and tempers to flare. The best approach in responding is to offer an apology for any inconvenience or bad experience and let the person know that they are a valued customer.

The final step is to show a willingness to collaboratively find a solution to the issue. You should suggest taking any continued conversation offline through avenues such as direct messaging in order to preserve privacy and security. Such a measure not only shows the community that you take customer concerns seriously, but it may likely result in a mutual resolution to the issue that satisfies the upset customer as well as possibly helps you self-correct a potential shortcoming in your customer service.

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