Tips for how to handle negative posts and feedback on social media


 

dealing with negative online feedbackIf you were a kid between the ’60s and ’90s, you’re probably familiar with the troll doll; cute and relatively harmless creatures. Then along came the Noughties, introducing a different kind of troll, described by the Urban Dictionary as someone who posts deliberately provocative messages in an online space with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

These trolls can be disgruntled customers, sneaky competitors or ill-informed consumers that post nasty things in public forums from behind a veil of anonymity, with little regard for the business or person on the receiving end. But rest assured, there are ways to eradicate this new breed of troll, and there are tactful methods for dealing with genuinely upset customers who may actually be within their rights to compensation. Here are some typical scenarios of negative feedback, including how to respond to ensure the best outcome for you, your brand and your customers.

Troll control

If someone is trolling your Facebook Business Page with outright rude or unsubstantiated claims, there are moderation measures you can take, including deleting their comment, marking their post as spam, removing them from your page, banning them from your page, blocking particular words or turning on the profanity filter. Though users have slightly less control over deleting or hiding mentions on Twitter, you can report abusive behaviour. Similarly, if you feel that someone has violated the Instagram Community Guidelines you can report inappropriate posts, comments or people, and Pinterest also allows you to block people. There is however an alternative…

Beat them at their own game

There are some comments that make you want to face palm yourself in disbelief, or retaliate with equal sarcasm, like sanitary pads producer Bodyform did when they received the following message from a misinformed male troll.

awesome responses to social media complaints

 

…to which Bodyform’s CEO responded. The score? Bodyform: 1, Richard: nil. 

The important thing to remember however is that not every upset customer is a troll, and simply deleting their comment, blocking them or making light of their situation is not going to help anybody, especially not your brand! Sometimes, it’s best to just…

Face the music

Nobody likes reading negative feedback or comments on their business social media. It can make you feel inadequate as a business owner; like no matter how hard you try, you still can’t win. But that’s simply not the case – it’s how you view the genuine feedback and what you do with it that’s going to make you stronger as a brand… Think of it as an opportunity to improve your product and services.

As people can be at the peak of their frustration when writing negative comments, often the best solution is to apologise for the misunderstanding or accident, acknowledge their feelings and concerns and ask them to send you a ‘PM’ (private message) including the details of the incident. This shows the customer you care, removes the conversation from a public forum (in the event that it escalates), and gives you an opportunity to rectify the situation in private to avoid encouraging copy cat complaints from trolls who would also like 50% off venue hire as compensation for their comment.

A great example of this approach is Goodall vs. Woolworths, when Facebook user Ryan posted a genuine complaint that his avocados were “not really living up to the whole ‘Woolworths the fresh food people’ idea”… going on to say… “I am not calling you guys liars but if you guys have a slogan maybe you should live up to it”.

dealing with social media complaints

Ryan’s rotten avocados, courtesy of Facebook

Facebook was quick to respond, exhibiting due concern (and appropriate humour), resulting in free, viral publicity [hyperlink to publicity article].

how to respond to negative social media

 

Ryan then private messaged Woolworths who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and everybody lived happily avocado.

handling negative social media comments

 

The truth is only you understand your product or service intimately enough to know if someone has a legitimate complaint. If there is even a shadow of doubt in your mind that there may be some truth to a customer’s feedback, you owe it to them to respond as quickly as possible. As Insight 180 says, “Conversation between an audience and an organization on social media is the epitome of transparency”.

Sure, you could deactivate all comments, but not only are you ruling out a very valuable (free) source of market research, you will also deactivate the occasional praise and customer support requests, which could lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate of existing customers if you choose to ignore them on social media.

So how does your business deal with negative feedback and comments online? Do you have a social media policy? Let us know in the comments about any experiences you’ve had with trolls or concerned customers and how you dealt with them in the comments!


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