Unlike traditional media (radio, TV, print) Social Media encourages a conversation scenario between customers and organisations. On the whole, the open conversation that Social Media channels have allowed for between business-consumer, consumer-business, and consumer-consumer is a good thing. It allows for the formation of more personal relationships between the man-in-the-street and the previously inaccessible corporate.

However, if you’re running a business Social Media account it is inevitable that you’re going to get some negative feedback at some point. What’s worse is that everyone else that follows you is going to be able to see that there is a discrepancy. There is a few recovery steps you can practice so that you can diffuse the situation when it happens.

Identifying the Type of Feedback

Start by identifying the type of negative feedback you’ve received. There are four types of negative feedback you can receive on Social Media.

  • Normal Problems – A customer has a problem with your product or service and has highlighted exactly what’s wrong. Although this is negative feedback, it is warranted and can help expose areas in your business that need to be looked at.
  • Constructive Criticism – Some people will complain on your Social Media but will offer a solution to the problem they encountered. View these kind of comments as a kind of ‘Suggestion Box’ that is helpful rather than a nasty stab at your business.
  • Merited Attack – An issue with your organisations product or service has made a customer very angry. They have decided to have a public vent on your Social Media. While the words they use may be scathing, their complaint is justified.
  • Spam Attacks – You will be attacked on your Social Media channels for no valid reason. It is usually done in an effort to promote a competing product or service.

Reacting to Negative Comments and Practicing Damage Control in Social Media

Figure out what kind of feedback you’ve received by referring to the list above. Once you’ve done this you need to figure out how to respond politely and swiftly. The number one rule when responding to criticism in Social Media, even the negative type, is to stay positive.

Responding to:

  • Normal Problems – Always respond as quickly as you can to these queries. I believe it’s best to respond publicly (on your Social Media) and personally if you’re able to. If the problem has an extended timeline in order to be rectified then keep the customer (s) up to date with progress reports.
  • Constructive Criticism – This also deserves a polite response even if you don’t plan on using the customers’ suggestion. You’ll build loyalty and trust by responding in a positive, thankful tone rather than ignoring the customer.
  • Merited Attacks – This kind of negative feedback can be hard to deal with as the words used may overshadow the justified complaint. Bear in mind that a merited attack has its roots in a real problem and therefore deserves an educated, prompt and polite response. Use damage control here – offer a refund, discount or a freebie.
  • Spam Attacks – It’s best not to respond to any kind of unwarranted spam attacks that may appear on your Social Media. Remove it as soon as you spot it. Depending on the severity of it, take steps to report it to your Social Media’s administration.