Social media can be fickle at times. With more than 3 billion users now spread across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, it’s more important than ever to know not only what’s being said about your brand, but also where and how you should address it. This is something the business and branding world refers to as ‘reputation management‘.
While social media is a great place to share brand love, followers can also bash your company with a single comment, leaving you vulnerable to their harmful posts and tweets. It means nothing for a customer or user to make a quick statement online — but it means everything to the individual or brand they might be talking about.
How you decide to handle the negative comments can mean the difference between going down in flames and moving forward graciously. You may even turn some of those negative voices into new brand advocates if you play your cards right.
Below, 15 entrepreneurs from YEC give advice on the best ways to respond to negative reviews on social media, so your brand doesn’t get tarnished as a result.
How Top Experts and Brands Respond to Negative Social Media Reviews
1. Acknowledge and Log for Future Reference
If we receive negative reviews on social media, we reach out to the individual in a direct message, thank them for their feedback and ask them if there is anything that can be done immediately to improve the situation. Once communication has concluded, we log all feedback and review it when it’s time to make updates and improvements to our product. – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
2. Look at the Positives
A negative comment is a perfect opportunity to highlight the values of your business in a positive light. Emphasize your business values and offer a solution that reinforces positivity. Don’t forget to take it easy. No hard feelings; there’s authenticity in being able to laugh at yourself. Give your customer value through a quick and personalized response. Be considerate and stay sincere.
3. Be Transparent and Reach Out
It’s important to keep a public conversation public so that whoever runs across a negative review in the future can see the complete context of the situation, however it ends up getting resolved. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also personally reach out to your customer via email or phone and find out how to make things right.
4. Address It With Passive Honesty
You want to address concerns in a frank and forward manner, but you also want to pull the complainer out of that channel as quickly as possible. Move them to an email or a phone call — anything that gets them off their soapbox. Be professional, address their concerns and offer to help through another medium. “The customer is always right” exists for a reason.
5. Create, Create, Create
In our business, any negative feedback is an open invitation for creative solutions. Maybe it will be a piece of content that targets an experience or something we missed. Life is about edits, so use this as an excuse to edit. It is an investment of someone’s energy to write a negative review, so channel that into creatively solving the problem, if it exists, with content. Taking it personally solves little.
6. Acknowledge and Investigate ASAP
The best way to address negative reviews on social media is to acknowledge the concern, probe further, offer a solution and promise to address it in a timely manner. I think it is important to acknowledge the negative review, but you also need to investigate beforehand to find out how they came to that judgment. It can be very subjective so it might be an isolated case.
7. Be Positive and Respectful
No matter how personal or derogatory the review, it’s important to stay professional, positive and respectful when you reach out to the unhappy customer. Let them know you are concerned and are there to listen. Even if it becomes unreasonable, turn the discussion back to anything positive you can do for them.
8. Listen First
You have to respect a customer’s negative review. You may not agree with it, but the best option is to try to understand why they are experiencing what they are complaining about. Simply listening will allow them to get their frustration off their chest. You can learn from this and it will give you an opportunity to find a solution to their problem.
9. Focus on the Issue
We’re all human, and it can be difficult to keep a level head when dealing with negative criticism. Rather than focusing on the person, try to understand and address their issue as calmly as possible. Once you’ve addressed the issue to the best of your ability, that’s the end of the conversation. Don’t be drawn into a long and public debate — you have more to lose than the customer!
10. Respond Quickly and Honestly
Time is critical when managing negative reviews online. Keep in mind that customers will be engaging with the review during the time prior to your response and they will not come back to read your comments. Act quickly and be honest about the comment. Don’t sound derogatory and don’t be partial. Apologize and speak honestly about the situation. Respond quickly and do not engage in back and forth.
11. Don’t Be Defensive
If you made a mistake and failed to offer the quality of service you aspire to, take responsibility and try to put things right. If that doesn’t work, give the customer a refund and send them on their way. Some customers simply aren’t a good fit for your company. Whatever you do, don’t get defensive and lose your cool.
12. Keep It Short
Show that you are empathetic and responsive to customer concerns. The best way to handle negative social media publicity is to have your support team respond (just once) publicly offering to fix the situation and urging the user to contact your company. Other people on the forum will see that your company is responsive and willing to fix the situation. Never argue back and forth on a public forum!
– Arian Radmand, TurnGram
13. Take Responsibility
Most of the bad reviews are posted out of anger and hate. I personally don’t know one person who has written a completely honest negative review. They will exaggerate to try to get their point across. If your company made a mistake, try to fix it before it gets online. If it got posted online, just suck it up and answer whatever reason you had to not solve the problem beforehand.
14. Convert Them to Evangelists
Go into total emergency customer service mode. In multiple businesses I’ve worked with, some of our most enthusiastic fans have come in first as what can best be described as haters. Unless they are jerks, people often just want to be listened to and taken care of. If they are passionate enough to complain, they likely are passionate enough to brag about superior resolution of their problems.
15. Accept Constructive Criticism
First and foremost, I think it’s important for any business owner to acknowledge that no company is perfect, and that pleasing everyone isn’t a realistic goal. Accepting negative reviews as constructive criticism is healthy practice, and openly communicating with your audience about brand improvement lets them know that you’re not only listening, but that you value their opinions.
Don’t Let Social Media Ruin Your Personal or Business Brand
Online reputation management is something every individual and brand needs to deal with. While many people think Google and social media just happens, there are ways to monitor and control what is being said about your services, products or brands online. Take action today and gain more control over your brand’s first impression today.