Social media is a powerful tool for all types of brands. It helps them connect, engage, and establish trust with current and prospective clients, increase brand awareness, website traffic and ultimately increase sales.

Connecting and engaging with your community is a great way to show the human side of your brand and establish trust and loyalty. But what happens when negative comments start popping up on your brand’s Facebook or Instagram page? This is one of the many questions you need to answer before posting and engaging with your community, “How will we respond to negative comments?”

Your response depends completely on the nature of the comments and the specific situation. The context will, of course, be something only you and your institution can really understand, but before we go through our tips.


Right Up Front

Lets just address this right up front, should you even reply to negative comments? Simply put, yes!

It’s impossible to evade criticism nowadays. There are simply too many review sites (Yelp, Google reviews, Facebook reviews, etc.). Also way too many platforms they can comment on (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) for you to keep anything quiet.

If someone criticizes your institution, it’s important to respond and to respond constructively. Not only is this good customer service, but it also reassures anyone who stumbles on these comments that you do care and that you actively try to resolve negative situations.

In addition, leaving criticism without a reply merely serves to reinforce their statement.


How to Respond to Criticism

There are a number of different options you can take when replying to negative comments. Here are 5 things you should DO when addressing those comments.

If you’ve ever dealt with negative feedback and comments you may have learned a few lessons the hard way. You will learn as time goes on that responding positivity always wins and I will show you how. So here are the 5 DONT’s when replying to negative comments.


1. Ignore the Comment

“If I don’t acknowledge you, you’re not there.”

If you don’t reply to the comments, it only looks bad on your part. Say a customer was at your place of business with a complaint, called or emailed your customer service department would you ignore him? I sure hope not!

What will then happen is that the customer will start telling those he or she knows about the negative experience they had with your business. Word of mouth can hurt your business tremendously if you aren’t careful.


2. Deleting Comments

“If no one sees it, it didn’t happen.”

Never, ever delete negative comments. The only thing worse than ignoring a negative comment is deleting it. It only serves to anger the customer more and give them cause to react by telling ALL of their friends how awful your company and its employees are. Negative social media contact isn’t something you can erase.

Some guides recommend asking posters to remove their comments after you’ve solved the situation. Generally speaking, however, there’s no real harm in leaving resolved issues on your profile, if anything this shows your willingness to rectify problems.

If you do decide to delete resolved issues, make sure you’ve fully resolved the problem first.

Warning: Keep in mind, the average Facebook and Twitter user has 100+ friends and followers, so a complaint from one or even a few customers grows exponentially, costing you customers you didn’t even have yet.


3. Respond in Like Manner

“I’ll show you!”

Let’s say a customer leaves an angry complaint on your company’s Facebook page. You feel the complaint is unjustified for whatever reason, it makes you angry and you can’t help but respond with an angry or defensive comment. Just as with the first two approaches, your response will only add fuel to the fire.

Remember the old saying, “The customer is always right?” No matter how wrong he is, he’s always right. And don’t forget that the complaining customer is not the only person who will be there for the exchange. There are social bystanders.


4. It’s Your Fault, Not Mine

“We’re sorry that you did not get the service you expect from us. We will better our services so you will be satisfied next time.”

For some businesses on social media, “Sorry” is indeed the hardest word. Often it’s because they don’t want to take the blame. They might not agree with the customer’s point of view. However, if we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes then it is hard to argue with their experience.

If it is clear that your product failed, then a sincere apology followed by a quick refund should solve the issue rather quickly. If it was a service failure, then an apology to the effect of “we’re sorry that you did not get the service you expect from us” is a good start. Following this up with something tangible (e.g., a money-off voucher for their next purchase) can also help.

If this is a common issue many people are experiencing, it’s easy to copy and paste responses. You might be telling yourself, “At least they’ll know you’ve seen it, right?” Wrong! Make the effort to personalize your response so they know they’re talking to a human rather than a bot. It will make all the difference for your company.


5. Leave the Issue Unsolved

“We hear you and value our customers. We will make this right immediately!”

Like Eminems song “Lose Yourself” where he says, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime,” this is your opportunity to capitalize on turning this frustrated customer into your brand’s evangelist. You cant mess it up or you’ll lose, not only one, but possibly more potential future customers.

This person (or people) obviously had some sense of loyalty to your brand if they’ve spent their money with you, or “liked” your social media account(s). Now, however, they’ve had an unpleasant experience and usually they just want to know that they’ve been listened to and that you (the people behind the brand) will make things right.

Example: Here at Firefuze we had someone leave a review saying that we weren’t ready for “prime time” and stated some issues our software was having at the time. Instead of messaging back with anger and frustration or trying to prove him wrong, we messaged him back saying that we were sorry to hear about his unsatisfying experience and that we will do our best to resolve those issues and thanked him for trying our 14-day free trial.


Satisfaction Guaranteed

When you deal with complaints effectively, disgruntled customers will tell their friends how awesome your company is and what great customer service you offer. And they’ll encourage their friends to buy from you. They have now become an evangelist for your brand. Talk about powerful (and don’t forget, free) marketing! You’ve established brand loyalty and trust to a greater degree than you would’ve had if there had never been a complaint.

Just remember that no matter how perfect you try making your brand look, mistakes happen, customers get upset and complain. With the growth of social media nowadays your customers now expect to be able to lodge these complaints and get resolutions via social media. Think of it as an opportunity to prove how great your company is – or not. The choice is yours.

With Firefuze you can organize all your social media engagements onto one platform. That way you wont miss any comments, negative or positive, and keep a positive ongoing relationship with your followers. Try our 14-day free trial today!