Haters Gonna Hate: Responding to Negative Social Feedback

By Ashley Ward

Social media pages give you the option to like, favorite, retweet, share, and +1 posts you enjoy. With all of these positive options, you’d think it would be impossible to ever receive negative feedback, right? Wrong. Although Facebook hasn’t released a “dislike” button yet, fans still find ways to express their negative opinions in comments, reviews or wall posts.

Image: New Brand Analytics

As an interactive marketing agency, Thunder manages a variety of social profiles, even some that haven’t received the most positive of feedback. We like to take this challenge and turn it into an opportunity to increase brand awareness.

Let’s Get To Know Each Other

A new client or campaign can be really exciting for an agency – a chance to contribute to a company’s brand, a unique voice to learn, and a new group of awesome people to work with.

Sometimes it’s not that peachy. Occasionally, we inherit a bad Facebook Page with several horrid comments or a Twitter Profile that is consumed with angry @mentions. The scariest is finding a page or group dedicated to mocking the profile you were just handed.

Image: Panda Whale

After freaking out, it’s important to analyze the situation and discover what is making people so upset.

First, check out reputation management websites like Yelp to see what actual customers are saying. Then, use social tools like Social Mention to discover how positive or negative the mentions are. After you have done your own research, schedule a kick-off call with your client. Here you can learn all of the basic company information and the overall feel of the business you’re about to represent. If you’ve discovered any negative sentiments, now’s the time to bring that up and learn more about the issue.

If you have identified an issue, see if your client has a crisis plan for situations like this. Are there FAQs and approved responses to reference? Who needs to be notified if something goes down? What steps should be taken to control the situation? Having a plan of attack will lead to a less stressful situation down the line.

Are You Listening To Anything I’m Saying

Like girlfriends, upset co-workers and the parking garage guy, everyone wants to be heard, especially on the Internet. The cyberworld was made for people to voice their opinions in a safe environment – preaching what they love, and mocking what they really hate. Right? Yeah, we didn’t think so either. Yet, the internet is the safest and most comfortable place for people to tell you how they really feel. This can be extremely beneficial or incredibly harmful for businesses.

Image: Neon Fresh

Having a social media presence increases your risk of receiving that negativity, but also gives consumers another resource to give real feedback. It’s important to use this platform, your social media pages, as a place to connect and respond on a personal, yet professional, level to all of your customer’s concerns.

But It Wasn’t My Fault

As an agency, you’re going to need to take the blame (as your client) in situations you don’t always feel are your fault, especially when inheriting a not-so-hot profile. There are ways of getting through that feeling, while pleasing the consumer, increasing brand awareness and satisfying the client.

Make a public response.
However bad the situation may be, it’s incredibly important to leave some kind of feedback and response for everyone to see. The person you are replying to is most likely not the only one who felt like that, and certainly isn’t the only one seeing your response. Respond in a professional manner, but keep it real. Thank the customer for their feedback, apologize for the issue and ensure your working on fixing it.

Image: Social Media Examiner

Not everything can be resolved online.
Sometimes all people want is to talk to real people. If the comment is really bad, respond with the option to call or email the company directly. Try to avoid leaving a 1-800 number in the reply. Use a phone number that has a real area code and directs people to a real person. Work with the client during the kick-off call to discover who the best contact will be.

Image: 22Michaels

Use ads like Promoted Posts to promote important company changes.
If a page is struggling to succeed organically, it might be time to invest in paid promotion. However, this will only work if there is a change or uplifting response to promote.

For example, if the page receives a number of complaints against the staff, but they’ve just hired a new staff, promote a post on social media announcing “New Management.” Let fans know they’ve been heard and you’re dealing with or have dealt with the issue. Using ads will also increase the amount of people who see your new update, increasing the possibility of positive brand awareness.

You’re Late For Everything

Taking too long to reply to feedback poorly reflects on the company’s overall brand. This is especially true if you continue posting on a regular basis, before responding to a comment posted days ago. Not only does it look like you don’t care, but it makes your follower even more upset, giving them more reasons to blast you on other social profiles.

At Thunder, I like to check my client’s profiles first thing each morning, again around lunchtime and right before I leave at the end of the day. This covers my bases and allows me to be aware of any new activity, whether good or bad. If you feel like three times a day is asking too much, check the pages each morning and right before you leave, especially Twitter. A lot can happen in one day, and even more after-hours. Make a point to connect with the consumer on their time.

Image: Appetize Social Media

That’s Not What I Said

Occasionally you’ll find one of your client’s social media pages has received a ton of negative comments or @mentions that are so bad, you’re ashamed to have them on the page. What do you do? Delete them? Hide them? Delete the page completely and start fresh?

There is nothing that makes a follower more angry than hiding or deleting their comment. Removing a comment shows that you’re running away from the issue instead of resolving it. This also gives fans an opportunity to put you on blast when they notice their recent comment is missing. It’s only appropriate to remove a comment when it includes foul language, racist remarks, or strong hostility. Even when a follower leaves incorrect information, it’s not appropriate to hide it. Use this as an opportunity for engagement by correcting the follower and other fans who may have the same misunderstanding.

Image: Business To Community

If you’ve tried all the above steps, and you’re still encountering negative feedback on social media, it might be time to take a serious look at your client’s business model and their customer service practices. You can spin it a million different ways, but if a business is screwing customers over, no amount of positive social media engagement is going to resolve a bigger intrinsic flaw in their operations.

Have you had any experience turning a negative into a positive on social media? We’d love to hear more about how you make your clients look good!

Image: Tumblr

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Ashley Ward

By Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is a Social Media Specialist at ThunderActive. When she's not obsessing over Facebook's changes, she's indulging in hoppy IPAs, travel deals and furry cuddles.

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