How to Handle Negative Criticism on Social Media

As a business in 2020, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy online presence. One of the most likely places your audience will find you online is social media. In fact, 43% of internet users use social media when researching things to buy. On the flip side, having a strong social media presence can leave your business susceptible to some very public negative feedback. Gone are the days of customers calling your customer service line to make a private complaint. Thanks to social media, your customers are ready to duke it out right where everyone in the world can see. So, how do you handle that negative criticism on social media professionally?

Before moving on, I want to make something very clear. Customer feedback on social media—whether positive or negative—is always a good thing. In his book The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk explains that social media has shifted the power back to the people and allows consumers to hold companies responsible for a positive experience. As a company, it’s your job to give customers something to rave about (not complain about) online. Any negative feedback received on your social channels should be handled with care and used for the betterment of your organization.

Finding Negative Criticism on Social Media

Do you know where to look for negative feedback on your brand’s social channels? Here are the places those undesired comments are most likely to pop up:

  1. The comments section of your posts
  2. The Reviews section on Facebook
  3. User-generated posts

Keep in mind, item number three on the list can be tricky. If a user wants to talk about your brand, they can decide to tag you in their post (which leads to you being notified) or they can mention you with no tag (which leaves you in the dark). Thanks to tools such as Mention and Hootsuite, you can keep track of anytime your brand is mentioned without a tag.

Responding to Negative Criticism on Social Media

Let’s say you have just sent out an Instagram post that you are extremely proud of and believe will generate a lot of engagement. To your dismay, the very first comment on the post is from an unhappy customer politely telling your audience that you’re a company of real-life vampires and your team has single-handedly ruined their life with its nefarious business practices. What do you do? Here are our recommendations for responding:

Respond in a timely manner

Negative comments and reviews on social media should be monitored well enough that your brand can respond within at least 24 hours, if not sooner. That being said, be sure to take enough time to craft a considerate response. If you respond with the first thing that comes to mind, you may come off as flustered or defensive.

Be understanding in your response

Empathy goes a long way when responding to negative comments. Put yourself in the commenter’s shoes before responding and be humble enough in your response to apologize for the dissatisfaction of the customer. Empathy doesn’t just go a long way in calming down an angry reviewer. It also shows your audience that you’re not in the business of having dissatisfied customers—you truly do regret some felt they had a poor experience.

Move the conversation elsewhere

Let your customer know that your team will look into their issue further and ask them for an email address so your team can reach back out later. Or, send the customer a private message on the social media platform before you respond. Then, use your response to mention that you just sent them a private message and would like to continue the conversation there. Responding to and taking care of your customers is your top priority. Private conversations are not only more efficient but also less embarrassing for your brand than a public back and forth.

Do not delete negative comments

Unless a negative comment is downright inappropriate or vulgar, do not delete it. First off, it’s unethical. Second, if a user sees that you deleted their comment, you will only have made the problem worse. Trust us. Wait until the problem is resolved with your customer and then politely ask them if they would not mind deleting their negative review or comment. If things cannot be resolved or the customer will not remove their review, it’s not the end of the world. A calm, collected, and professional response to a bad review can go a long way in showing an audience how you would treat them if things were escalated.

Keeping Things Positive

With over 40% of internet users using social media when researching things to buy, it’s critical that your brand stays on top of the comments and reviews coming through your social channels. In fact, one study states that one negative review can cost you 30 customers. With that in mind, be sure to implement the aforementioned strategies in an effort to combat any negative mentions of your company on social media. While you’re at it, be proactive in giving your customers every reason in the world to rave about your business on social media. Remember, sincere and glowing 5-star reviews are earned.