Managing negative comments on social media can be a bit of a minefield. How you respond has consequences – it can either enhance or ruin your reputation, win or lose you customers and open you up to positive or negative press.
As a brand it can sometimes be easy to take things personally, get defensive or bury our heads in the sand and completely ignore what’s being said. It’s so important that you do none of these things and handle negative comments like the professional you are.
On Tuesday evening this week, I watched on Twitter as a North East women’s fitness brand responded to being challenged on one of their adverts and I was horrified.
Here’s what happened.
The brand was challenged by mothers of children at a local school after a banner advert was placed outside of a school (or incredibly close – the tweets said outside) stating it will help women “look better naked”. In the ad was a silhouette of a large women with an arrow pointed to a smaller, thinner silhouette.
On seeing this, some local mothers and residents tweeted the brand to say they felt the advert was inappropriately placed and promoted negative body image to the children in the school. The brand responded in a very aggressive manner, personally insulting those who commented, which started quite a backlash alongside a couple of comments from loyal customers defending the brand. The tweets back and forth went on for quite a number of hours so a wide audience has seen this conversation unfold.
In other words – they’ve damaged their reputation. Through one Twitter conversation the brand has:
- Alienated many of it’s key target demographic by personally insulting those who commented.
- Lost some potential new customers.
- Received a huge number of negative comments which have moved onto other platforms so it will reach a wider audience i.e. Facebook.
- Left itself open to negative coverage from local press who are looking into the story. This has the potential to be picked up nationally too.
That’s the power of social media. So how should they have managed this situation? Here are some tips for you to follow if you ever find yourself receiving negative comments on social media.
How to respond like a pro
- Be quick to respond: This is really important, don’t wait a few days to reply to them because the situation could snowball out of your control in that time. Make sure you keep an eye on your social media feeds and respond within a couple of hours (ideally earlier if possible). That way you can manage the situation in your own way.
- Say sorry when it’s your fault: It’s ok to admit responsibility if you have an unhappy customer, this just shows your you’re human. If it is your fault, apologise and offer them something – a refund, discount off next purchase etc. Usually starting your tweet with a “We’re sorry you did not get the service you expected from us” or “We’re sorry you aren’t satisfied with the product” will help start to ease the customer’s dissatisfaction.
- Take it offline: The quicker you can do this, the easier it will be to get the negative comments out of the spotlight. Ask for their details via DM and give them yours so they can call or email you. It will obviously still be there for everyone to see (please never delete) but they’ll see that you’ve been proactive in solving the issue.
- See things from their point of view: Even if you completely disagree with the comments, make an effort to try and understand where they’re coming from. They don’t care about your excuses or how you feel (even though they’re often valid), they just want you to have empathy with them. Make sure you let them know that you’re seeing it from their point if view so that feel better.
- Follow up: To avoid any further negative comments I think it’s really important to follow through with any actions you agree with the person and follow up to make sure they’re happier than they were once the matter has been resolved.
Remember you may not be mentioned by your handle in every negative comment. Be proactive in monitoring social media so you can respond to anything aimed at you but not mentioning you.
Responding in a professional way can really help turn negative comments into a positive and will maintain your brand reputation.
I would love to meet you on Twitter. Follow @KD_Comms for all of my updates and feel free to share this post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or Twitter.
Do you need help responding to stakeholders via social media? Get in touch with me for help. Call 0191 236 1010, 07941694702 or email email@example.com.