by Nathan S
If you have a social media account for your business, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ or some combination of the five, chances are good that at some point, you have or will have to deal with postings which speak poorly of your company. Indeed, this is one of the major necessary aspects of social media marketing. How your company deals with these negative responses goes a long way in determining the success of your social media marketing campaigns.
Recognize the Feedback for What it Is and Respond Accordingly
There are three basic “flavors” of negative feedback: genuine expressed concern for an issue, destructive criticism and spam. While you should always remain professional, understanding what kind of negative feedback the commenter left can go a long way in determining how to answer them.
If genuine concern is expressed, thank them for their advice. If you have a plan for resolving the concern, now is a great time to share it with your followers. This level of transparency does not go unnoticed, and actually improves customer perception of your business. Conversely, ignoring these concerns will almost always damage your reputation, because it makes you appear as though you are ignoring known problems. This translates into a lack of regard for the customer, and they will likely disengage if you demonstrate poor customer service in this way.
Destructive criticism is a little bit trickier. In fact, it is probably the hardest form of negative feedback to deal with. In the event of destructive criticism, the commenter is angry, and has some real reasons to be angry with your company. However, rather than calmly addressing these issues to you, the comment is designed to drive people away from your company.
In this case, your company needs to understand what genuine underlying concerns are present in the criticism, offer solutions, and most importantly, remain calm. It does your company no good to become defensive. Rather, by showing that you see the problem and are willing to take steps to fix it, you show your customers a great deal of integrity and transparency. You probably won’t win the customer back, but treating them well will limit the damage.
The last category, spam, is difficult to define precisely. However, the best metric is to read the post and determine if there is a legitimate point being made. If there is, it’s destructive criticism and needs to be addressed as such. Otherwise, this constitutes one of the only cases where it is suitable to be dismissive in your response. This is someone who is simply trying to garner attention for themselves. By not giving it to them, you will cut the problem at its source.
However, in deciding to be dismissive, be very certain that the post is not a genuine concern or destructive criticism. Treating either of these posts as spam is highly likely to cause a backlash.