How to handle negative comments on social media

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I remember going through a meeting with a client and remembering that they didn’t want to be on social networking sites because they didn’t want to get negative comments or feedbacks. The thing is, whether or not your company is using social media, someone is talking about your brand on social networking sites like Yelp to review their experience with your brand.

In case you’re wondering whether or not your brand should respond to this feedback, allow me to shed some light on these interesting facts.

Firstly, according to a study done by The Retail Consumer Report last year, 68% of consumers that posted a complaint or a negative comment on social networking sites, about their negative experiences, got a response from the retailer.

From that, 18% of them turned into loyal customers and bought even more. If you think that is all, you’re wrong. 33% of them turned around and posted a positive review after that, and 34% of them deleted their negative review that they had left earlier.

This shows that, if handled properly, negative feedback can indeed be a powerful tool to gain loyalty from your customers and enhancing, not only their experience with your brand, but also the experience of other customers who view your brand’s online persona – since they would be reading some of the positive reviews that the returning 33% had posted.

And for smaller businesses, gaining loyal customers is extremely important! Question is, how should you respond to negative feedbacks?

1. Respond as fast as possible or when you can: According to a study (yes another one) 25% of customers expect a response within an hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. Having said that, how fast you respond depends upon the industry your business is in.

2. Don’t follow the script all the time: I just hate it when social media managers or the person behind the brands follows a script. If you don’t know, most customer representative online or offline have a script to follow depending on what customers say on social media sites. Follow a guideline and not a script. Be different and sincere. BeHUMAN.

3. Give customers more information: I remember seeking help via social media and I receive a “we’re sorry about your experience” response without any help and the brand gave the same response to others as well. Remember don’t follow the script earlier? Despite them responding quickly, they did not answer my question or solve my problems, and I had to comment again. Having said that, it’s not only important to respond quick but also how you respond  that matters.

4. Have a separate email or contact: It’s frustrating when you tried emailing customer service without any help, and when you reach out to them via Facebook or any other social networking sites, they tend to give you the same exact email contact. In my opinion, the better choice would be to have a separate email address for Facebook IF email is need. Another alternative would be to reach out to them by sending them a message on Facebook so that you can get more information.

5. Be honest and transparent: Don’t try to hide or give any excuses; instead be upfront with your customers and apologize and admit that it’s your fault if it is. Having said so, if you don’t have an explanation, apologize to your customers and let them know that it will never happen again.

6. Don’t take it personally: Last but not least, don’t take negative comments as personal attacks. Instead, take them as feedbacks as you’re able to see things from a customer’s point of view. However, if you feel that the customers could be wrong, you could try to defend yourself in a polite way.

Have you had any experience with negative comments/feedbacks? Do share with us how you have dealt with it.

This post is a republished post from one of my guest post at C3C Centric

  • shinytoyrobots

    Accepting the potential negative feedback from opening yourself up to social media is a big step. It’s definitely got more potential benefits than drawbacks if dealt with well, and you’ve outlined some great points.

    I’d add two things to what you said;

    I don’t think I agree with the idea of having a separate email for Facebook. Firstly, if you’re really interested in support queries, you should be answering support emails in the first place! There’s nothing wrong with citing the support email address in response to a Facebook or other social media query, but be careful to identify whether a user has already tried that avenue. If so, apologize for the lack of response, and address that issue.

    I’d also add an important #7 to the list; “Learn from the criticism”. As well as addressing negative feedback, social media input from users, both positive and negative, is a great resource for improving a product or service.

  • DaveGallant

    I think if companies are concerned about receiving negative comments, especially if they happen internally, then they may have a much larger issue, which is a potentially unhealthy corporate culture.

    I would agree with all you points aaron lee wei-ren . Great post!

  • Brittany at Sprout Social

    I’d have to agree with shinytoyrobots and Dave. If a company is that concerned about receiving negative comments, then there very well could be a much larger issue. Ignoring the comments won’t make them go away (I’d even venture to say that it could make things worse).

    I do definitely agree with your points too, Aaron. Brands need to address the issues and negative comments, do their best to resolve them, and most of all, act like a human! Those personal connections are what’s going to transform a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate.

  • LeoWid

    Wow! First off, AMAZING new theme Aaron, so clean and nice to look at. I love this post, especially the point on “being honest and transparent”. It seems to be so obvious, yet it is such an important one, that you just admit, fix and move on with any mistakes you have made.

    Thanks for the great tips and Buffered this post for sure! :)

  • jonathanjaeger

    Great article! Everytime I get a bitter or angry message via a social networking site in regards to my own music website, I turn around and offer advice, make comments on people’s music, or offer to feature a song of theirs — I often turn a negative comment into a happy user of my site.

  • Justicewordlaw


    I like your insights on this matter a lot and you covered a lot of areas that are important but the last one is most important in my opinion. Don’t take what they say personally. Once they finish venting a lot of the time most of them feel bad for this terrible comment and then when you actually reply back to them in a timely manner they end up feeling even worse and deleting the comment quickly like you said so don’t worry that much about it. Thanks for sharing your insights on this one.

  • AskAaronLee

    @LeoWid Thanks Leo, I’m still working on the new theme, looking to get it as clean and possible. thanks for noticing.

    You’re right, sadly, not many brands try their best to be transparent. Possibly corporate issues.

  • AskAaronLee

    @shinytoyrobots Hello!

    Thank you for the comment, I would agree on your first point as company should answer support emails in the first place, I don’t feel there is a problem of giving out the email, however most corporations tend to respond by following the script and giving the same exact email that most of the people have already tried to contact with. I faced this problem before when i tried to reach out. When I told them that I have already contacted them, one of the team members gave me an alternative email to reach out.

    Agree 100# on #7. thanks for adding it to the list.

  • AskAaronLee

    @DaveGallant Great to see you here Dave, thank you for taking the time and leaving me a comment.

    You’re right, they tend to avoid looking bad, however, a little search will show its already happening. I know CEO’s that are active and paying attention on social media while the people below them “avoid” them.

  • AskAaronLee

    @Brittany at Sprout Social Acting like a human definitely helps for sure. Not many brand does it well though.

    Depending on the issues (if they avoid it), these days brands won’t know how “viral” it can go. Best example would be United Breaks Guitars a couple of years ago.

  • AskAaronLee

    @jonathanjaeger Wow, congratulations on that. I LOVE your mindset. Its something we all have to learn! Checking out your site soon.

  • AskAaronLee

    @Justicewordlaw Yeah! i would agree on that, It happened to one of our customers too who deleted the comment and apologies after posting it after we responded to them.

  • freelancesocial

    Great post, good insight as always, I enjoy your blog. It just so happens that this post ties in nicely to one I wrote recently – if you get a chance, hope you will give it a read as well. Thanks for the interesting post. TR

  • sideaha

    As brutal as negative comments can be, they really offer the opportunity for us to learn more and especially build a better business.”The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ― Gloria Steinem

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  • Vishnu Aniyan

    very useful tip Aaron . Keep the good work Pal :-)

  • Tove Jönsson

    Interesting post and for brand this is absoloutly worth concidering. Also, in general, a company which have made mistakes and solved them are more likely to gain consumers loyalty than those who never made a mistake.

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  • Patrick Lui

    Very good post! Thanks!

  • alexandria scott

    Thank you for giving us information on how we should handlethe negative poosts and the basher that we encounter in the internet world. Yes, We cannot please everyone, so its up to us on how we can handle this negative people.

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    Very good post. Thank you.

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  • adeem jan

    Thanks for this piece, you’ve clearly given this a lot of thought. However, I do wish that the fact that the majority of abuse women face online is highly sexist, and often very scary . And it would have been great to see some advice for this sort of abuse – something I have recently been researching around – to be mentioned, to make the advice more relevant to the realities of gendered abuse online. Points like ‘start an offline conversation’ aren’t particularly helpful if your attacker has randomly found your profile picture on twitter and decided you are a ‘slut [he] wants to rape’. Also advising people to think about ‘how they present themselves online’ ignores the realities of a lot of abuse that takes place, which is based on your identity (race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc) – sure, if I didn’t say I was a woman, I may get less abuse, but is that the solution? I do really think there’s some useful stuff in here, and it’s important not to panic, respond to attackers, etc, but I think that the nature of abuse really varies, and when its identity based (which is most often is) the issue becomes a lot more complex..
    Also, relying on social media policies is difficult, particularly when you look at their attitudes towards gender-based abuse. For example, Facebook lets numerous pro-rape pages or rape jokes go unchecked, but censors pictures women consensually put up of themselves. I suppose the point is that while these neutral options do exist, the identities of the people involved at the nature of the attack means that the response to it – personally and by social media – can vary.

  • sona martin

    Very useful thread for me. some friends of me using this method from you. I have come here for know more,

  • Peter S

    this really helpful thanks for the post.

  • perry

    Superb post very nice and amazing .

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