The art of dealing with negative feedback on social media

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By Rachel Smith
on 20/5/13

Last month at Return on Digital’s client conference I was part of the Q+A panel and my chosen topic of discussion was how to deal with negative feedback on social media. There have been a few high profile cases of companies responding badly to feedback on social media recently, from the restaurant owners who labelled their critics “sinners” and much more on Facebook to Cineworld’s cheeky (borderline rude) responses to somebody complaining about prices, so I thought I’d share some of my tips on how to respond here.

Delete or ignore negative comments

You might think no response at all is better than entering in an argument online, however ignoring or deleting comments can reflect very badly on your business.
The person may complain further about your lack of response and this will look bad to anyone else visiting your social channels.
There are a few circumstances where it would acceptable to delete/ignore the comment such as if it’s a spam comment or contains offensive language.

Treat it like an offline complaint

How does your company respond to complaints received offline? Is there an official complaints policy? If so apply the same rules to this online complaint.

You want to show that your company takes complaints and negative feedback seriously. You also want to prevent the negative comments from spiraling out of control, so direct them to an offline way to have their complaint addressed. A lot of companies do this by giving contact details for their customer service department.

What if they insist on posting their feedback online rather than privately?

Lots of people use social media as an outlet to vent their frustrations, so some of them won’t be satisfied with contact details for your customer services. They may continue to post on your social channels regardless.

Always keep confidentiality and data protection in mind; depending on the nature of your business, you may be restricted from posting a response which gives details of their dealings with you due to data protection and confidentiality. If this is the case then say so and tell them you would be happy to discuss offline rather than on a social media site.

If you can change their mind, they could become an advocate for your brand

As unlikely as it may seem, if you go above and beyond to resolve this person’s complaint, they could end up becoming a supporter of your brand online.