The Internet is a beautiful thing. It lets us connect with people on the other side of the planet at any time to talk, write, share photos, play games, and engage in any number of other activities. Social media platforms have become entrenched in our culture as they facilitate our ability to do all that and, as a result, most businesses have wisely taken the opportunity to reach out to potential customers where they now are—on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels.
There is a serious downside to promoting yourself on a platform where anyone can write back for all the world to see, however. No matter how innocuous or positive your message might be, there’s always a possibility that someone will come along to denigrate your brand or product. Depending on what that person says, there are a few ways you can effectively diffuse an explosive situation.
Hear Them Out, Offer Solutions
You might be tempted to hit the “hide” button so your other followers can’t see what your disparagers said, but before you just ignore them take a moment to really read their comments.
Perhaps someone did have a truly negative experience with your company; rather than pretend it didn’t happen you can admit the mistake and try to fix it. You may be able to offer an effective solution in your own comments section, or you might want to ask a negative commenter to message you directly so you can speak more about the problem in question. Either way you’re giving yourself a chance to win disappointed customers back and save face in front over everyone else who saw the comment.
Tell the Truth
While some negative comments may come from people with a genuine problem, others can come from misinformed parties or people who are just looking to stir up trouble. Either way, if someone is posting false or misleading information about you, take it as an opportunity to correct that person and explain what the truth of the situation really is.
Don’t reply with your own negativity—you’ll want to be courteous and professional no matter how disrespectful the original comment may seem—but do correct any false rumors being spread. Again, you could just delete the comment or block the poster, but that could make it look like you’re hiding something. By addressing the issue directly you look more transparent and give yourself a chance to squash misinformation other followers might have otherwise believed.
Perhaps you can fix the negative commenter’s problem, or perhaps you can’t. Regardless, you should stay positive and be apologetic if you’re unable to help.
Some brands have found success by making snarky comments on Twitter, but that is a risky strategy which could seriously backfire, especially for smaller companies which don’t have legions of loyal followers who might get a kick out of a sarcastic reply. It may be tough to smile in the face of negativity, but you should seriously reconsider before responding to a mean tweet with one of your own.
Customer relations can get tricky on a personal level, but social platforms which magnify your interactions for all the world to see truly make your reaction to a negative situation a reflection of who you are as a company. Don’t let a disparaging remark damage your brand.