Social Media

How to Handle Negative Attention on Social Media

 March 19, 2019

By  Greenhouse Digital + PR


Join our community to get our leading building insights, tips, and strategies delivered right to your inbox!

You receive a notification about a new Facebook post. You quickly open your page only to wish you hadn’t. A nasty-negative customer complaint is now sitting on your page for all to see…

Unfortunately, people turn to social media to complain about companies all the time. However, with a proper plan in place, you can use those negative comments as leverage to win over future customers.

Follow our team’s strategic reputation management tips below to transform complaints into repeat buyers.

Remain Calm

It may seem like a hard hit at first, but it’s important to put a negative post or comment into the proper perspective. The issue needs to be addressed, but it’s not the end of the world.  While your first Brand-Bodyguard-Instinct may be to delete or respond immediately,the best practice is to resist a knee jerk response, and develop a well-reasoned course of action. This also gives you a chance to cooldown so you don’t respond emotionally.  

Listen to the Customer

In crafting your response, make sure to thoroughly read what was posted and try to decipher the true issue at heart. What exactly is bothering your end-user? Are they complaining just to be heard, or does their complaint have merit? Below, we provide three examples of the most common types of negative posts. But, there is one type of complaint you should listen to.

Another good rule of thumb is to not delete a comment (unless it is violates posting policies). Customers seldom believe a business is free from complaints. In fact, consumers place more trust in businesses with negative reviews and pay particular attention to a brand’s response to common issues. If they witness great customer service, they tend overlook minor problems.

The internet troll

You make and sell widgets. Your brand introduces the latest widget to hit the market. Here comes Bob. Bob did not like your new widget. He wants EVERYONE to know how terrible he thought it was and how much he hates your widgets. So Bob posts on all of the brand’s social channels telling everyone not to buy your widgets. This type of customer will always find something wrong or feel the need to complain. They also are very brand loyal to a competitor therefore will use complaints to bash your brand.

The know it all (There is great opportunity for engagement and collaboration)

You post about an image of a recent on-site install of your brand’s latest widget and explain how the installer used parts A, B, and C to help install the widget. Susie comments on your post that part A should not be used for this type of install, and instead insists she could do it better.

The general customer complaint (This is the most important)

You run a rebate for anyone who purchases your widgets during July. First-time customers can receive an additional 15% cash back after their widget is installed. Tim comments that after six weeks, he never received his rebate and is very upset and wishes to speak to someone.

Offer a Solution

After you distinguish which type of customer you are dealing with, you can begin to write your brand’s response. First step, the brand should demonstrate compassion/understanding and never blame the customer. Instead, thank the customer for reaching out to you and alerting you to their situation. Next, work to move this transaction offline (via private/direct messaging in an attempt to obtain the customer email address or ask they call you directly.) It’s always easy to make unrealistic claims and threats on a post, but people tend to be much more realistic in a one-on-one email or over the phone.

When drafting your response, keep it brief. Where possible, provide links to additional technical supports, trainings or troubleshooting materials on your website (this will help future readers of this exchange). Lastly, never ask or give out a customer’s personal information in a public forum. You want to respect their privacy and protect  their information.

Turn Complaints into Opportunity

As previously mentioned, consider most customer complaints as a valid feedback channel to how your brand is perceived. If you notice a pattern about poor service or defective products, use this as an opportunity to improve your brand’s user experience. Host a webinar on how to properly use your product, create a video addressing common product use/assembly misperceptions or areas of confusion, or update your FAQ page on your website. If you notice posts from “The Know-it-All”, engage with them. See if they are willing to provide their expertise to support other customers by serving as a brand ambassador. This is a proven tactic. By leveraging this persona’s outsized ego, you can turn a naysayer into a brand advocate.

Customers trust influencers — especially those similar to them (a mom is going to trust another mom, a technology newbe is going to relate to someone who can’t program the DVR). As for that troll… thank them for their feedback and keep them under their bridge.

Remember, don’t take customer complaints personally. Use a complaint as an opportunity to demonstrate your brand’s exceptional customer care by positively engaging with customers, solving problems and championing their experience with your product/service. If done right, you can turn a negative complaint into a lifelong customer.

Need help managing your online reputation? Give us a call at 815.469.9100 or visit our webpage. Our team of experts can help you with a monthly reputation management plan or host a training webinar to help improve your online reputation.


Join our community to get our leading building insights, tips, and strategies delivered right to your inbox!