Handling Negative Feedback On Social Media
Managing a social media account for a business or organization is not for the weak of heart. When placed as the manager of a Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn account with high traffic, reviews and opinions can be undesirable at times. Sometimes for a good reason, sometimes it’s just a rant.
Keeping every single one of your followers happy in reality is impossible. Social media is seen more often than not as a venue to air out disgruntled remarks. It could be something as simple as your customer had a terrible day, then whatever happened involving your business was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There are other times though where your followers are voicing a genuine concern. Whether about business practices or about a recent experience.
The hardest part is that your social media accounts are the face of the company. Keeping it free of blemishes is an unreasonable goal, people will always complain. It’s not about the complaints though, handling a social media account with grace is the key. How you respond to the complaint is the most important thing that matters. While it may be first nature to take the complaint personally, you must learn to shed your emotions when handling negative feedback. Remember, the complaints are about the business or organization itself, not typically personal jabs at you as a person. Granted there may come a time when a negative review is pointed directly at yourself, but we will discuss how to handle that later.
Come Up With A Plan
First and foremost, you and your team should have a process that you use to handle complaints and negative feedback. Establish a flow of what type of complaint each person will handle. Issues with the website, a broken app, or genuine critiques on a recent business change should all go to a corresponding contact. Make sure the person of each department is fluent in your plan, from what precedence each type of complaint takes, and what the end all resolve should be. Your goal should be addressing the problem that warranted the complaint, not the complaint itself. Your plan should be easy to follow and have the same ideology throughout the entire plan: The customer is always right, and diffuse the situation.
What Goes Where?
There are many different types of feedback that users will leave on your social media. Each of these types of criticism deserve a different approach. Most feedback can be categorized down to four separate groups:
Critical – These are reviews or messages with the highest priority. If someone messages you that your website is not working, the bar is on fire, or that an employee was found doing drugs in the bathroom; these type of things need to be handled IMMEDIATELY. As soon as you see the message, review, post or tweet, thank the user for drawing your attention to the issue, and assure them that what you have sent is being handled immediately and takes a precedence.
Constructive – Typically constructive feedback is from a user with the best intentions in mind. They have a concern, but don’t feel that it is of the most dire importance, which they are correct in feeling so. Something to the tune of: your parking lot is too small, the chicken fingers were a bit dry, or your Facebook page needs to put up the pictures from last night. All of these are small concerns that are being voiced to hopefully help your business succeed. Most constructive feedback comes from users looking out for your business and want it to succeed.
Rant – Rants come from anywhere and everywhere. It could be that your business really dropped the ball and sincerely disgruntled a patron. Sometimes a customer just had a bad day, and the ONE small mess-up that your business did was the icing on the cake. While rants are one of the most common types of negative feedback, they require a different approach than most. Firstly, apologize, ask if you can offer them something to make up for the experience, and ask that they give you another try. This is all you can really do. If it was a defective product, return it no questions asked. A crumby dining experience, refund the dinner. Keep in mind that if the person was livid enough to colorfully describe their evening, they are probably not going to be able to be reasoned with. Don’t get frustrated, apologize and move on.
Spam – This one is pretty self explanatory. Reviews containing links to sketchy or questionable websites, work from home schemes, or “share this post to start making $1k a week!!” are all prime examples of spam. Ignore and remove the spam, and carry on with your day. If you see the same user spamming multiple times, send them a message asking if their account was compromised. If no resolve is met, remove the spammer from being able to post on your social media.
When To Respond
Attempting to respond to every piece of negative feedback will sink you into a bottomless pit of despair. As previously mentioned, create a plan that utilizes teamwork, and make it your goal to respond to 90% of the negative feedback. Apologize, offer something for condolences, and say thank you. Always try to offer a solution, but if the user is unreasonable, there is no sense in attempting to negotiate and instead thank them for their opinion and carry on with your day. The number one priority when handling a social media account is to have patience. The better you carry yourself in negative situations the more respect you stand to gain. Even if the complaint is trivial, take a deep breath, apologize, offer a solution, and make changes if need be.
Build a Team
One of the largest benefits of having a strong online presence for your companies social media is the home field advantage. Once your audience becomes affluent in how you handle situations and your business practices, you will begin to see something amazing happen. When small issues present themselves on your social media, your other users may start jumping in to mediate it themselves. This does not mean that you should allow every negative review to be handled by your audience, but it does allow you a chance to step back, observe, and possibly watch the issue fizzle on its own. If the review in question is not of the most dire importance, there is nothing wrong with letting the situation diffuse itself in a timely manner.
Close The Door
There are times when a complaint online escalates well out of proportion, and when this happens you need to know how to handle it. If the posting in question is turning into a gladiator arena of white knights and trolls, take down the post. Message the user directly and see if you can handle the situation without the public behind you. While sometimes its acceptable to let your community defer negativity, there are also times where your own community can make a small negative review into a personal slander-fest. If the topic is becoming completely derailed or looks like users are just attacking each other personally. Remove it. Some issues are best handled behind closed doors. Know when to rally your troops, and when to dismiss them.
It All Takes Time
Taking on a social media account by no means is an easy task, but know that there are thousands of other people in the EXACT same boat you are currently in. Look on MeetUp and find other social media managers to meet with and network with. Learn from your peers, ask about their mistakes, and how they handled them. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, a social media manager did not learn all their tips and tricks in one afternoon. Everyone has made mistakes, the biggest thing though is how they learned from them. Create a large network umbrella and use other’s mistakes as your curriculum.