When it comes to social media marketing, one of the unique selling points which makes it popular for many businesses and brands also happens to be one of the reasons many other businesses and brands are wary about signing up – the customer reviews / feedback.

Social media, especially via social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, allows for real-time interaction, each day of the week, every month of the year and around the clock, meaning even when your business is locked up for the day, your customers are still able to leave feedback – which is in the public domain.

Understandably this causes many businesses to be wary of taking the plunge, with many asking whether signing up to Facebook or Twitter will come back to bite them, with someone putting an offensive comment on one of the platforms.

At JE Consulting, we get asked this question a lot, and our response to any clients who ask is to be honest; whilst it is possible for someone if they really wanted to, to post an offensive comment – this doesn’t have to be detrimental to your business.

It’s also worth remembering that even without your business having a social media marketing campaign, social networks can be used for negative feedback about your business – the only difference is that you wouldn’t be aware and therefore wouldn’t be able to respond accordingly.

As unpleasant as negative feedback may be to receive, in the rare case that you do receive it, as a business you should neither:

a) ignore it
b) delete it

Over the last six months or so, there have been press reports and alike of businesses who have fallen foul to negative comments via social media, and have gone down the route of option b, above.

However, attempting to brush negative feedback under the carpet by deleting the offending post – is the equivalent to:

a) sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “la,la,la” when a customer complains in person
b) walking away from a customer complaint in person and acting as though everything is ok

You wouldn’t do either of these, because they aren’t professional nor is it good customer service, so why consider doing it online? Those brands that have have faced a further negative backlash.

Instead, should you receive negative feedback via Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media, you should face the problem head on – and respond accordingly and in a timely fashion.

When responding to negative feedback, no customer or client wants to feel like they’ve been fobbed off by a response in an attempt to make it better – nor does any client / customer want to feel like they’re getting the same response as customers.

It’s therefore important to respond to any negative feedback online, as you would if you received negative feedback via a different medium – by looking into the complaint and seeing how you can make it better, before responding.

There is nothing wrong with responding to a comment left on Facebook, thanking the person for their feedback and advising them that you’re looking into the issues raised and will be back with a response shortly. Showing a pro-active approach to negative feedback online could turn out to have positive effects for your business, as it shows the business as one which cares about its customers and responds accordingly.

Some top-tips when responding to negative feedback via social media are the following:

1) Address Concerns in a Concise Manner
Social networking is a form of micro-blogging, and there is nothing wrong in responding to customer complaints in a short, concise manner – as long as you address all points raised by the customer, and do your best to turn a negative into a positive

2) Remain Professional
A recent study into social media found that when using social media, people are more likely to be honest and open than they are face to face, because it is easier. This unfortunately can include being harsh and in some cases rude.

If someone has left negative feedback or reviews regarding your business online, address and resolve each issue the best you can. Not only will this show that your business is proactive in dealing with customer feedback, but it’ll also show other customers and potential customers will see that you’re on top of the bad things being said about you – always a good sign that the business in question cares.

3) Negative Comments Don’t Have to Be Negative
Comments which at first glance appear negative aren’t always that. Instead, it can often be constructive criticism, which if misinterpreted and mishandled could result in further negative comments.

The best way to handle constructive criticism is to take it with a pinch of salt and to thank those who left it – again showing all customers that your business is willing to accept constructive criticism and will respond in the right manner.

When it is OK to Press Delete:

With all that said, there are some times when it is ok to press the delete button to a negative comment – but this should only be considered as a last option and used sparingly, when there really isn’t any other option.

The cases when it is ok to press delete is when the comments received are what can be considered “trolling” – where a user is leaving a number of negative comments in the hope of getting a reaction. In these cases, the best thing to do is press delete and block the user.

Unfortunately, in the business environment there will always be negative feedback; but how you respond to it as a business, will go some way to shedding either a positive or negative light on your business; but one thing is for sure, the fear of negative feedback should prevent your business and brand from capitalising on the benefits social media marketing offers.

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Categories: Blog