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How to Deal With Negative Feedback on Social Media


Running social media interference for any company with an online presence means you're going to end up dealing with a fair amount of negative feedback. Some of the time the requests will be legitimate, eloquent and easy to address. Other times they will be nonsensical, confusing and virtually impossible to address and every now and again you'll stumble across a big, ugly troll nestled right in the middle of your pretty comments section like a dead rat in a flower patch.

It's imperative to know exactly how to differentiate between the types of negative feedback and how to address each different kind. Any company with any kind of online presence needs to present itself as having an open relationship with customers. In days gone by negative feedback was dealt with privately but with social media being what it is, the grievances (and responses) are very, very public. So, that in mind, here are some pointers about how to deal with them without offending clientele or getting dragged into a flame-war.

1 - Respond on a case by case basis

Automated responses are the tool of the devil. Has anyone in the history of human kind ever reacted positively to an automated phone call from some PPI-preaching robot? Don't answer, it was rhetorical. If someone has a genuine complaint, they want it to be addressed by a real live human. If someone is just making trouble, they want the same thing, they just don't deserve it.

So, beyond just making sure negative feedback is responded to directly, it's important to know when you're being trolled and to ignore it. Trolling is almost always a cry for attention, don't give them what they want. If someone is just making a relatively innocent little joke, that can warrant a response, playful banter looks good for a public image but if it's just bile then better not to give them the satisfaction.

As far as actual negative feedback goes, if it is a genuine request for help, that's easy, but if it's something like 'Your delivery service is rubbish' then it's a case of turning that statement into a dialogue. A response like 'Oh dear! We're sorry, let us know exactly what happened and we'll do our best to sort it all out' can work really well, keep it civil and don't lay it on too thick. If, however, after responding in this way you just hit a brick wall of scorn, just apologise again, drop in a link to your troubleshooting page or email and move on.

2 - Don't just wait for feedback

A company that only responds to negative feedback when it flares up doesn't really look like a caring one. Addressing problems when people reach out is one thing, but demonstrating a willingness to improve is paramount if you want to project a friendly image. One of the easiest ways to do this is through canvassing.

What I mean by that is openly appealing for criticism. Put a shout out on Twitter or Facebook along the lines of 'Are there any areas you'd like to see us improve on?' and see what it turns up. The above tips still apply to anything you get back from something like this, but the simple act of asking customers to help you improve comes across very well indeed.

You could even take it one step further and run a scheduled Q&A but fair warning, if you're gonna get trolled, it will be here. Larger companies have been brutally lambasted during Q&A sessions on Twitter in the past and whilst they often have a lot of skeletons, even smaller companies are fair game for this kind of thing. Just bear that in mind if that's a route you're wanting to travel down and leave any stupid/inflammatory questions hanging.

3 - Recognise when something needs to be private

Sometimes, when you get caught in a feedback chain on a comments section or wherever else it can start to spiral out of control. Other people start weighing in and the whole thing turns into a complete mess, causing the person who had the problem in the first place to just give up. This isn't necessarily your fault, but you'll get blamed for it anyway.

Differentiating between what can be cleared up in a few quick steps and what is more complex is absolutely fundamental to good feedback response. The moment you see a negative comment, identify how easy it's going to be to resolve the issue and act accordingly. If it can't be dealt with quickly, contact the person in private (and reply to the original comment to let them know you've done so). By doing that, you can make sure that the situation is dealt with intimately and with no risk of anyone else jumping on it and causing chaos.

The problem with social media commenting is that it's so rapid fire that the original issue can be lost in seconds if you're not careful. It's also always important to widely publicise the contact information people can use if they do want to talk to you directly, since even if you do adhere to the above principle, you can still miss things.

4 - Don't take anything to heart

It's important to remember that all companies let people down at some point or another. There could be any number of reasons behind it and the best thing to do is identify what went wrong, fix it and make sure it doesn't happen again. Sadly, the days of criticism being universally tactful and civil are long gone. People are going to be nasty and you're going to have to deal with it.

When you do find yourself fielding negative feedback that's being transmitted in the medium of 'F*** YOU', just remember that it's nothing personal and not worth getting upset about. The internet is a rude, stilted wasteland where manners go to die, the best thing you can do is move past it and figure out whether you can offer the potty-mouthed little curmudgeons any genuine help.

A lot of the time the answer is going to be no, but as disheartening as it is, you always need to make sure. If you do manage to offer some scurrilous froth dispenser some useful advice, you might actually manage to make them a bit more agreeable, or at the very least show other customers that you will always address an issue, no matter how inflammatory the transmission.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

How to Deal With Negative Feedback on Social Media Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 Rating: 5

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