The reality of social media today is that once you have a brand presence, you can't avoid negative reviews and comments. Some will be genuine, others not, but how you handle them is critical. Hiring a social media manager whose role is to not only mitigate these harmful situations can provide a solution and even help earn back customers' trust.
Even with social media managers on staff, however, some brands still stumble badly when it comes to dealing with negativity, and ugly missteps can have a lasting impact on your brand too.
To figure out how your process stacks up, we asked a group of entrepreneurs from YEC how an effective social media manager should respond to negative comments based on their own marketing experiences. Their best answers are below.
1. Avoid canned responses.
It's good to have a basic messaging strategy for negative comments or a crisis on social media channels. But when it gets ugly, try to personalize that messaging. As a PR/marketing consultant, I cringe every time I see the same copy/paste response to each negative comment. Most people reacting negatively just want to be heard, and a copy/paste response can cause them to be more upset. -Sydney Williams, Planet Green Socks
2. Be empathetic.
A customer may not always be right, but they deserve to be heard. Listen to the feedback and ask for more particulars so you can do something about it. But most importantly, put yourself in their shoes with the way they're feeling, and show that you care about why they're feeling that way. Let them vent, then do what you can to provide a solution. They'll be much happier knowing you care about them. -Jurgen Himmelmann, The Global Work & Travel Co.
3. Acknowledge the issue.
When negative feedback is received, it's best to acknowledge their issues and concerns, and apologize for the failure on your part to have not met their expectations. It's also counter intuitive, but it may also help to thank them for bringing it to your attention so that necessary actions can be taken to correct the future experience for others.--Souny West, CHiC Capital
4. Offer a solution.
Recently the Grateful Dead fanbase crashed CID Entertainment's website and were unable to buy tickets at the specified time. Deadheads were freaking out online. Rather than respond to each fan individually, CID released status updates highlighting how close they were to solving the problem. Fans wanted to stay in the know, and they calmed down with a foreseeable solution.--Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
5. Make them feel heard.
Ninety percent of users who reach out to us with a problem just want to be heard, so make them feel heard: Respond quickly and address them like you would a person (and not just a form response). Sometimes you won't have a solution immediately and that's OK. Just be sure to set the expectation by letting them know you're working on a solution.--Tekin Tatar, BeFunky Inc
6. Take it offline.
Most negative comments towards a brand or product should be taken offline, in order to prevent any further escalation. You don't want others seeing a messy situation untangle on the web, for the entire world to see. An appropriate solution would be to email the user (or however else is appropriate) to discuss the problem and come up with a solution.--Jason Shah, Do
7. Research the problem.
Most social media managers will simply reply with an apology and let the customer do with that what they will. An effective way is to thoroughly research at which point the problem occurred, resolve it in house and then respond with a genuine explanation of what happened and what will be done in the future to fix it.--Kumar Arora, Aroridex, Ltd.
8. Offer a point of contact.
Respond to the customer via the comment on the company feed, giving them a point of contact to follow up with in order to resolve their issue. This will make it evident to the other users that your company is dedicated to the customer experience.--Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
9. Be quick, calm and useful.
Step one is to ensure that the complaint is legitimate, and not aimless provocation (trolls are a nuisance that comes with having a social media presence). Then, make sure that your company responds the same day--Google Alerts helps with this--with a level-headed and detailed solution to the customer's problem or concern rather than referral to a support page. Also, never ever return fire at any angry posts.--Manpreet Singh, TalkLocal