How to Respond to Negative Social Media Comments

how to respond to negative social media comments

There’s no denying that social media can feel like the Wild West at times. As a brand, you need to not only be aware of the space, but also be willing to constantly evolve with it.

Social media has become an amazing tool that allows you to directly connect with your audience — but it also opens up a new world of crisis management where one negative comment has the potential to put your business’ reputation at risk. 

For publicly listed companies, Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at the PR firm Weber Shandwick, says that social media crises are also threats to a company’s profits: “One tweet, just one dangerous tweet, can really impact your share price.”

No matter how strong your social media strategy, there will always be negative comments. Whether they’re coming from trolls or from a disgruntled customer, there are a few simple steps to follow when responding to negative social media comments.

You don’t need to be professionally trained in public relations to follow these 5 simple steps to consider when responding to negative social media comments:

1 – Listen Carefully.

Time is of the essence. In fact, 37% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes. So, you’ll want to respond quickly and social listening is a great way to keep on top of negative social media comments.

To make sure you don’t miss important feedback, use technology that allows you to track all mentions of your brand, branded hashtags, and branded URLs shared on social whether they include an @ mention or not.

Now that a huge portion of the population has access to social media at their fingerprints, the first place you’ll hear about a problem is likely social media.

2 – Stop and Assess.

Before responding, it’s necessary to determine what kind of response is warranted.  A negative comment presents an opportunity to show your brand’s dedication to resolving any issues with transparency and empathy. With the five steps we’re going over now, you’ll deliver the service necessary for a satisfied fanbase. 

Assess the negative comment. Is it coming from a customer who has a valid complaint about your service who needs answers? Or is it a “troll” who just seems to be using hate speech or vulgar language to get a response? Each kind of comment should be handled differently and we’ll get into the appropriate responses!

3 –  Be Transparent.

Make sure to respond publicly before taking the conversation to a 1:1. Responding publicly is essential to showcasing your brand as transparent, attentive, and helpful. Reply quickly, take the conversation elsewhere if sensitive information is being discussed (like personal information or banking information) but then make sure to loop back to the public thread and report that the issue has been resolved. 

4 – Respond Appropriately To a Dissatisfied Customer.

With a disgruntled customer, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot, so never craft your response in an aggressive or confrontational tone. Reply publically, tagging the customer. Use some specific keywords that let them know you’ve read and understood their comment, expressing sincere regret that the customer had a poor experience. And most importantly, try to avoid using a cookie-cutter template response that lacks a human connection. The last thing you want to at this point is to make your customers feel like they aren’t being listened to or taken seriously!

5 – Responding To a Troll.

However, when dealing with a comment that may violate online community terms – like hate speech or violent language – you may have to shift gears a bit when crafting your response. You need to get across a message that clearly states that this kind of language will not be tolerated. These comments can be reported to the social platform you’re using since they likely violate the platform’s community guidelines, or you can hide them from public view (others will not see the comment, but you and the person who wrote them will).

It might be tempting to delete a negative comment, but be careful. Doing so can cause more harm than good; creating more anger and additional comments, especially if the comment was coming from a legitimate disgruntled customer. 

There are eyes on your interaction and as a brand, you should always try to use a negative comment as an opportunity to turn the situation around.

Social media is a lot more than just posting a pretty picture and writing a witty caption. There are many factors to consider when navigating the social space, and crisis control is just one of them. 

Keeping your eye on all these moving and changing factors on social media can be overwhelming, especially when your company has other marketing or communications initiatives to look after. It’s not an area that your company wants to neglect!

A strong social media strategy is essential to your company’s success. If you’d like help improving your digital marketing or social media management, give us a call today.

Plexus Media – 1-844-6PLEXUS ext. 108.