What are some of the most effective approaches for businesses that need to respond to negative comments on social media? Continue reading to learn more!
Social Media is a double-edged sword for a business. While it is a great place for brands to engage with their customers on a more personal level and build goodwill, if something goes wrong or the firm makes a PR faux pas, then the blunder will be forever there for the whole world to see.
Yes, you can delete the post, comment or whatever content disaster that was, but the damage will have been done already.
Case in point: “Chrysler’s F-bomb”. Back in 2011, a staff person from New Media Strategies tweeted on auto manufacturer Chrysler’s Twitter feed:
“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.”
As you would expect, this tactless message did not receive any gold stars. It shocked thousands of Chrysler followers and the entire Twitter community.
The company’s public relations department suffered a difficult time with their audience before promptly firing the sender of the thoughtless tweet. The damage had been done already, though; Chrysler did not renew its contract with them.
We can learn from the Chrysler example and several other cases like it. There’s need to exercise tact and diplomacy when relating with your social media community. It takes just one single social mistake to ruin a long-existing goodwill and rapport. “Tread with caution,” they say.
Keeping the above in mind, what are some of the most effective ways to respond to negative comments on social media, or to even communicate with them generally?
Let’s examine nine of them.
1. Stay calm
The first step in order to respond to negative comments on social media effectively is to stay calm.
There’s a good reason we are advised to never take decisions with a hot head, and that’s because our body goes through way too much (emotionally and physically) when it gets angry.
With social media management, you must understand that your following is made up of people with different personalities and perspectives, which means that you cannot please everyone. But you certainly can manage them.
To do that, you must first be a master of your own self – your own emotions and inclinations – and that begins with being calm.
Never respond in anger. Social media is explosive, so keep calm and respond responsibly. If necessary, bring in a third party to help manage your response or have someone monitor interactions from afar.
When responding to negativity on social media, it’s also important to realize that you may be responding publicly, but don’t respond publicly with private information. Just because someone has taken issue with something doesn’t mean they are wrong and should be reprimanded.
It’s important to remember that your personal brand is an extension of you, so you need to project your best self. Before replying negative comments, it’s a good idea to take deep breaths, count slowly in your head, or even excuse yourself from view for a moment.
Be conscious of your body language during live video interactions; try not to cross your arms or fidget during a conversation as it can come across as hostile or defensive.
Use tactful responses that respect both parties’ points of view without resorting to insults or name-calling.
2. React with assertiveness
The second way to respond to negative comments on social media is to react with assertiveness.
In a perfect world, everyone would be nice all the time. Unfortunately, that’s not how social media works. Replying with a firm confidence is one of the effective ways to respond to negative comments on social media; it establishes your authority on a topic and/or let’s your audience reevaluate themselves.
The key is to keep your cool and make sure that you don’t come across as overly aggressive or rude.
After all, when it comes down to it, responding in an assertive manner is less about responding negatively and more about staying positive. The idea here is to put out your thoughts without tearing anyone else down.
For example, if someone criticizes something you wrote on your page, try saying something like “I appreciate feedback from readers like you!” or “I will definitely take that into consideration for my next post.” Assertiveness lets people know where you stand without making them feel attacked or belittled.
3. Apologize if necessary
Acknowledge that you hear your customers’ concerns. Let them know you’re sorry if they feel like your actions have hurt or upset them in any way. Even if you don’t feel personally responsible for their negative experience, there may be ways in which you could have done things differently that would have made it better.
It is imperative that you act professionally and acknowledge people’s feelings without dismissing or undermining their opinions. A simple “thank you for bringing this to my attention” can go a long way toward maintaining positive relationships with your current and future customers.
If someone has taken time out of their day to express an opinion about your brand, product, or service, let them know you appreciate it. Make sure they understand that you are listening by responding directly to what they said and then asking questions about how else you might help them reach their goals.
This is also a great opportunity to ask for feedback about specific areas of concern so that you can improve upon those aspects of your business, going forward. Asking questions shows others that you are interested in hearing what they have to say.
This will help build trust between yourself and your community while keeping open lines of communication. For this reason, it’s very important to take responsibility if you want to respond to negative comments on social media effectively.
4. Stick to the facts
Don’t let your emotions get in the way if you want to respond to negative comments on social media effectively. The goal of responding should be to address or acknowledge an issue, not argue about it. Use reason instead of emotion, and facts instead of feelings.
Be sure that your response is completely accurate — if you don’t know all of the facts, admit it and explain what you do know. It’s always better to say too little than too much, as it keeps things relevant and saves time for everyone.
While it may be tempting to use livid language or turn swearing into a verb, resist. Instead, stick to calm responses that acknowledge your opponent’s point while refuting it. For example, “I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree with some of your conclusions based on these three reasons…”
If a situation escalates out of control, take-down any offending posts immediately and apologize publicly for any confusion or misunderstanding.
Then walk away until tempers cool off — there’s no need to engage further if someone else has taken over the conversation. After all, there’s no such thing as winning an argument; just consider yourself lucky if people stop talking about it at all.
5. Listen before reacting
Another tip on how to respond to negative comments on social media is to listen before reacting.
First, pause for a second. Before you press “post” or choose an emoji, LISTEN! You want to give yourself a chance to get out of your own head and really hear what is being said. What are they truly saying?
Sometimes, our interpretation of people’s words is different from what they actually meant, so do take the time to listen. And even if your online customers actually did channel negative energy toward you, always remember that customer is king.
If you always treat customers based on your true feelings, it’s only a matter of time before your fan base begins to decamp to your competitors’ side.
Listen, pause, then respond if you must (and positively so!). Building and maintaining a healthy rapport with your customers is one of the goals of social media marketing. It starts with lending a caring ear.
6. Ask questions
Before you respond to negative comments on social media, start by asking questions.
If a customer is upset, responding with curiosity rather than hostility can help you understand what they’re agitated about. Try asking them what’s making them feel that way.
Answer their questions and allay their fears. Offer solutions to their problems, refer them to the right places, or offer promises to make things better. Showing real concern for the well-being of your customers by asking useful questions will improve brand reputation and customer loyalty.
7. Pause for a while
If you’re feeling attacked or upset by someone’s comments, it can be tempting to fire back in anger. The best way to get past that impulse is to breathe deeply, step away from your computer or mobile, and take some time (hours or even days) before responding. If you need help keeping your head cool in a crisis, ask someone who knows you well for advice.
Once you know what feels right or like less of a knee-jerk reaction, come up with a plan ahead of time for how you will respond when people post mean-spirited comments about your brand.
It may sound silly, but if you have a specific response planned out in advance, it will be easier to stay calm during an emotional moment.
You may also want to consider reaching out directly to those who posted negative comments. In many cases, they aren’t trying to attack you personally; they’re just venting their own frustrations.
Taking an active role in resolving any issues can not only help repair your reputation but also turn angry commenters into enthusiastic supporters!
8. Put the situation into perspective
Before you respond to negative comments on social media, it’s important to put the situation into perspective.
It’s easy to get upset when people criticize you or your business online. But often, those criticisms aren’t necessarily personal; it’s just that they want a different outcome or result than you do.
If they were simply complaining about their bad experience with your product or service, try to understand why they’re unhappy. Was there an issue with delivery timing? Price? Quality? Understanding what caused their dissatisfaction will help you better handle their complaints in future.
Once you have all of that information, try not to get defensive. Instead, think through how you can address their concerns. Sometimes, it may be as simple as offering them a refund or a discount code for next time.
Other times, you might need to apologize for mistakes made and explain how you’ll prevent similar issues from happening again in the future. Whatever approach seems most appropriate based on your unique situation should be deployed, as long as it’s handled professionally and tactfully.
Now that you are armed with these super powerful ideas on how to respond to negative comments on social media, we hope that you will be much better prepared the next time someone says something unwelcoming about your brand.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but knowing what you should do isn’t always as simple as actually doing it.
Learn to pause, take a deep breath and never overreact. Respond with thoughtfulness, confidence, and grace. And remember: Being responsive is important; being reactive isn’t worth it. Reply with care rather than outrage. Nobody wants that type of attention, anyway.
That’s it for now! Do you have any other ideas that we haven’t mentioned on how to respond to negative comments on social media? We would like to hear them, please share in the comments!
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