Social media is a way for your clients and customers to communicate with you. But what happens when what they want to say is negative? Like, really negative?

The risk that comes with social media is that you can’t control what people say, and you can’t control who sees it. Maybe you delete or block negative users, but that can create a whole new type of blow back- why aren’t you facing the criticism? Blocking doesn’t equal solving the problem.

Instead of running from the problem, here’s hat to do with negative social media feedback.

Don’t Ignore Them

First things first; you can’t run from the negative feedback. You have to face the music. Try to understand what people are mad about; are they dissatisfied with your services? Do they feel like you mislead them about your experience? Are they mad at something you said in an interview?

Take the time to HEAR what they are saying, and see how you can address it. Maybe it’s something out of your hands, like USPS taking longer to deliver because of weather conditions. Or maybe it’s because of your attitude towards your customers. Feedback (even negative feedback) can be a great way to grow, but you first need to listen.

Take a Pause- But Don’t Wait Too Long

Small companies may have just one person who does all the work. Meaning you might be on deadline when you start getting a flood of negative comments for something else. You have to finish the work, but you can’t take too long to answer the comments, because things can get out of control easily.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to respond when you feel heated yourself! No good comes from yelling back at someone yelling at you on the internet.

Read the comments, take some time to formulate your response, and then click ‘send’ when you’re calm and can stand behind what you’ve written. Saying something in the heat of the moment is bad business. Especially on the internet, where things never really die. Even if you delete your comment later, screenshots can easily be taken.

Be Read to Admit Fault…Or to Stick To Your Guns

If you said or did something that was offensive, be ready to apologize. Step outside of your experience, understand that you hurt people, and apologize.

However, if the negative social media feedback is totally unwarranted, you can defend yourself! But remember that you don’t want to antogonize them further. Defend yourself by saying something like this: “I understand that you’re frustrated with delays, but once it’s mailed I no longer have direct control over it. I also can’t control the weather (I wish!) I’m happy to offer you free shipping off your next purchase!”

A response like this allows space for their frustrations, but also gently guides them away from blaming you. You also offer a perk to them, which is a good PR move. It says “I understand and I want to help you avoid feeling this again.”

Negative social media feedback is a part of our online world. But handling it gracefully is a way to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy.

 

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Kara Perez is the founder of Bravely, a company that connects women and money. She freelances in the areas of personal finance and travel, and she eats peanut butter straight out of the jar.

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