July 7, 2021 - Natalya

How to Respond to Negative Social Media Comments: Agency Edition

When managing a brand’s online profiles, it’s best to have a conversation with everyone involved on how to respond to negative social media comments. As an agency, you may not have all of the quick answers available to these negative comments and might require some processes put into place in order to assist that user effectively. 

How to Respond to Negative Social Media Comments | consumers intake on reviews

With close to 4 billion active users, social media is a powerful tool brands can use to achieve business goals. From customer service to brand awareness, it is possible to use social media branding in many positive ways. But it could go the other way too. A negative comment can as easily reach millions of people as your brand campaign can. And if not handled well, this negative comment could tarnish your brand reputation. Therefore, Agency Vista has picked up the essential tips on how to respond to negative social media comments.

Online reputation management statistics for 2021

As an agency, your role is to grow and hit your client’s digital KPI’s effectively. Part of managing a social media profile is online reputation management. Let’s look at the statistics:

Why It’s Important to Answer Reviews and Comments on Social Media?

American’s report that they tell more people about poor service (15 on average) than good experiences (11). So, if you don’t know how to respond to a negative social media comment and leave it, that person can do serious damage to that brand’s reputation. Consumers just want to be validated and assisted, so responding to a comment is half the battle. If they feel that they are being heard and someone is trying to assist them, then it elevates that initial frustration and you can help turn around their negative experience. 

Future customers will see that your brand responds and cares about their customers and will be more likely to purchase. As a brand with a social media presence, criticism, and negative comments are the norm rather than the exception. Social media platforms are new customer service. While clients are tired of waiting in queue to reach customer service, they go to social media and tag a business to leave feedback. They know they will receive a response promptly. 

72% of customers will not take any purchasing actions until they have read reviews. They trust each other more than the brand’s advertising. The customer’s review on social media is a critical aspect of product research. Clients check both positive and negative comments and pay specific attention to how a brand replied to them.

We are all consumers, take your own product research into consideration. If you are looking to buy a product and see a number of bad reviews that have not been responded to, you’re going to continue on in your search. And with so much competition, you can’t risk losing an interested buyer over not responding and addressing an issue. 

How to Respond to Negative Social Media Comments

1. Determine the cause of a negative comment 

Since negative comments and reviews are different, the tactics of handling each of them will be different. Therefore, before taking any actions, define the cause of the negative.

  • Complaints about a product. For example, a customer was not satisfied with their purchase (ie., faulty, poor quality). For this type of feedback, it’s best to send a direct message to the user to get more information (ie. their email address, order number) so that your client’s internal team can investigate the issue. Once you have sent the direct message, you also should respond to the comment thanking the user for reaching out and letting them know you have messaged them to investigate the issue.
  • Complaints about the brand. The negative comment can be addressed not to the quality of the product but to the company itself (ie. poor experience with an employee, testing products on animals, tone-deaf ad). These types of complaints are more difficult to deal with as they typically are focused around a bigger problem. It’s best to thank the user for their feedback and let them know that you have passed along this information to the team to further investigate. You’ll also want to set up a process with your client on how they would like to receive this information (ie., have a point of contact with someone on their support team, send the feedback directly to marketing).
  • Trolling and provocation. The trolls’ comments are far from the truth, aggressive and obscene, and do not carry any specific claims. This is the only case when they can be ignored or deleted and it’s best to report the fake accounts. 
  • Dissatisfaction with the price. We have placed questions about the price in a separate category. “Why is it so expensive?” – it seems that this is not a negative review, but it can become one if you do not catch the mood of the client. Perhaps the buyers do not know the specifics of the product — tell the clients in more detail what the price of the item consists of and what they will receive as a result.

2. Respond Quickly and Apologize.

Apologizing doesn’t mean that you are agreeing with their claim, it means that you are validating they are having a negative experience and that they are being heard. This is the first step in resolving the conflict. Research from HBR shows that customers are willing to spend more on brands that respond within five minutes of their posting a negative comment. By following this strategy, Solitaired increased their customer satisfaction score by 16%.

When you apologize, focus on the positive instead of the negative (ie., being proactive to assist them). While negative comments on social media may begin as bad publicity, responding quickly will help you turn the situation around by showing consumers that you have their best interests at heart.

3. Answer politely.

Reading negative comments about your business is always unpleasant. Being rude in response is a terrible option. At the very least, this is unprofessional. Do not write thoughtlessly and with all emotions. Address the person by name and be polite. Answer only to the point, without getting personal and without deviating from the essence of the question.

Excessive emotionality in the response on behalf of the company is not allowed. Of course, the clients are not always right, sometimes the negative may consist of unfounded statements about the company, but this is not a reason to treat them the same way.

Here is how Donatella Versace apologized for the design of a T-shirt that demonstrates disrespect for China’s National Sovereignty.

How to Respond to Negative Social Media Comments | Donatella Versace Apology

4. Analyze the problem and avoid false promises.

No doubt, your customer might be unhappy with the service or product, but you should analyze the situation properly before making any promises. Of course, if the issue is on your side — you need to fix it. Deceiving people is not good; spoiling a reputation is even worse. But you do not have to offer a full refund, bonuses, or replacement before clarifying the situation. 

You can offer a client to contact the customer service department to investigate the issue and understand the fault. 

5. Discuss the problem one-to-one.

While it is crucial to acknowledge an issue publicly, try to resolve the conflict privately (when appropriate). It is an excellent tool when the investigation requires some customer’s personal information and other sensitive matters. 

We are sure you do not want the comments thread to be full of client’s frustrated replies. Instead, offer the customer to send you an email, direct message, or contact customer support. Move the conversation privately and away from the spotlight.

6. Show empathy and avoid automated replies.

Not everyone has a sense of empathy. Therefore, do not allow a person with an atrophied sense of empathy to communicate with clients. Even a solved problem can leave the client unsatisfied because there is a persistent feeling that you were not heard in speaking with such people. Even if the problem is eventually fixed, the client may remain emotionally upset.

When answering a customer’s negative comment, show that you share your client’s concerns, empathize, and demonstrate a sincere desire to help. Make it clear that the client’s opinion is important to you. Your response should be personalized so that the client feels that real people are working on the comment.

7. Convert a negative comment into a positive customer experience.

Please solve the problem and inform the client about it. Seeing that you care, the client becomes loyal to the brand and quickly starts recommending you to his friends and turns into a brand lawyer — starts sharing his experience of solving a problem. Working on your reputation allows you to show potential customers that your company can be trusted, care about your image, and open to dialogue with customers.

8. Turn your mistake into a valuable lesson.

Constructive criticism is beneficial for any brand. Negative comments carry essential information for the brand about the customers’ preferences, quality of its products and services. Thank your audience for leaving positive and specifically negative comments – they help you improve your brand and become better.

What Is Strictly Prohibited When Handling Negative Comments?

  • Deleting. Imagine yourself in the client’s shoes: you are dissatisfied with something, took the time to write a detailed comment, expressed your opinion, and it was not just ignored but also deleted. The next step of a dissatisfied client will be a complaint on a third-party resource, where it will no longer be possible to delete the comment. Here your upset client will meet like-minded people. These do not need to be your existing customers; they may be users of the resource who have become sympathetic to the author of the negative content. It will be much more challenging to fix the situation. 
  • Ignoring. Seeing unanswered comments on social media, no matter whether they are positive or negative, users may decide that you do not care about the opinion of others about your brand, which will easily scare away potential and existing customers.
  • Aggression. Do not respond with negativity to negativity; try to give the most cold-hearted and polite answer.
  • Excuses. If you have made a mistake, the only proper solution is to correct it. Making excuses, you will only fall in your target audience’s esteem.
  • A belated response. People who write negative comments on social media are waiting for an answer. If they do not receive it, they move further across the web, spreading negativity about your company on all sorts of forums.

Save time using our social media scheduler

Listening to your audience, collecting their feedback, and implementing changes based on what they have to say, is an effective way to show that you care about their opinions. We hope you enjoyed our article on how to respond to negative social media comments. Now, let’s get back to effectively managing and scheduling your clients social media posts with Agency Vista’s new publisher.

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