Social media for small businesses – part 4 – Dealing with negative reactions

by JohanBe inspired30/09/2015

Social media for small businesses – part 4 – Dealing with negative reactions
If social media have one major disadvantage, it is that people are much more ‘vocal’ because the medium tends to be more impersonal. So the barrier to post negative comments on your post, product or service is much lower. But how should you, as business owner, deal with that. We asked our own ‘social’ people as well as Candice Vanhacht of ACT*Cleverwood and came up with the following tips.
  • Respond
    Just about the single, worst thing you can do on social media is to ignore and/or remove negative comments. Don’t, because you’ll only get more negativity in return.
  • Think about it
    Is the comment justified or not? Whichever the case, take some time – an hour or so – to think about your answer before responding. You’ll think much clearer by then and the person who posted the comment is also busy doing other things in the meantime. That’s the moment to dot i’s and cross t’s.
  • Thank you
    Did a customer take the time and effort to point out a small mistake or fallacy? Thank him and keep him posted on how you are solving the issue for him (and for any other customer reading in.)
  • Mea culpa
    So you really made a mistake, even perhaps just a small one? Be upfront about it and don’t be afraid to admit the mistake. If you can’t help the customer right away, tell him you’re looking for a solution. In the latter case, be sure to get back to the customer with follow up and a solution.
  • Go private
    In case of a customer complaint, most companies will immediately propose the customer to handle it further via private messages. This way, companies will limit the damage done and, on the other hand, the customer doesn’t need to put all the details of his issue or his business out in the open.
    If possible, try to handle the affair with a simple phone call. That will save time and is often much more direct and straightforward.
  • Stay polite
    Take care to provide clear and correct answers, regardless of the nature of the complaint and the language (ab)use of the customer. If you answer with Twitter’s 140 characters, don’t let the brevity of the message lead you to a (too) forceful answer.
  • Let there be laughter
    Humour can be a very efficient way to invalidate a problem. But… not everyone has the same faculty for humour. If you answer in a tongue-in-cheeck way, do make sure that every reader understands that humour is at play here. A smiley every so often can do wonders.
  • There are limits
    There is not a single social media tool that allows racist or undue abusive language. They all have charters to that effect. Anyone should be able to have his say, but with respect for others. If the plaintiff goes too far, you can always report him to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Hotheads and trolls
    Are you bothered by an inveterate complainer venting his anger. Don’t take it personal and try to find out if that person is also acting like this elsewhere (chances are he is).
    Equally trying is the “troll” that publishes the same, stupid message over and over again with every post you do.
    No one will hold it against you if you ignore or hide all of their messages (except the first one!) and, possibly, even take measures to block their comments. A word of explanation to you other followers will do wonders.
  • Happy customers are the best fans
    Is your customer overreacting, even after you responded correctly to his message? If your followers are real fans and they also think that person is crossing the line, you’ll quickly notice they will take up your defence for you. Even your readers’ patience can wear thin and no one visits your social media channels to read how someone else continues to complain beyond reason.

Any advertising is good advertising
This credo is so old and ingrained we can’t possibly set it straight here. But in a sense there is truth in it: negative comments also cost you time, money and effort to handle correctly. So avoidance remains key.

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