Who could have predicted the power of social media for retailers? Over the last decade, it has gone from a fun place for friends to an imperative part of your marketing strategy. Customer service no longer lives in the call center, it lives on Facebook and Twitter.

As with all marketing channels, you have to take the good with the bad. Even if you have a stellar reputation, negative comments are unavoidable. Social media is often the quickest, most efficient way for customers to voice their concern.

While this can be intimidating, there is a way to effectively manage your reputation. Not only will it improve your customer experience, but it will make a lasting impression on potential customers as well. Here are a few quick tips to consider when you’re responding to negativity on social media:

  • Do NOT Hit Delete. As tempting as it is to simply erase the negative comment off your channels, do not do it. You should NEVER erase negative comments. You’re more likely to upset the customer further, and if your brand is caught red-handed it will make you look untrustworthy and illegitimate. Of course, the exception to this rule is if the comment contains hate speech, vulgar language, or other inappropriate content. It’s important to remove such comments and block the user when necessary.

  • Respond to Everything. Don’t leave a negative comment unaddressed, no matter how big or small the issue is. By acknowledging their concerns, you’re showing them that their voice matters and your brand cares about their problems. Most of the time, customers just want to be heard—so much so that by responding to their complaint, you’re increasing their customer advocacy by 25%.

  • Move the Conversation. Encourage the customer to either contact you via private message, or through email or phone. Try to avoid going back and forth in the comments section, as this is public and not the place to resolve issues involving personal information.

  • Be Personal. Spend the time to create a unique, personalized response to each complaint. Use their name and address their concerns head on. Do not just hit copy and paste from the last post. This may take your team more time, but it’s easy for users to spot when the same response is being posted over and again.

  • Respond Promptly. One day on social media is like one year in the real world. Don’t let comments go unanswered for long periods of time. A good rule of thumb is to respond to everything within the business day, and have your social media team on hand to check for complaints multiple times per day. This will look a little different for every retailer, but be sure to staff correctly for the volume of comments you receive. If you find it difficult to keep up with the volume, it may be time to add more community managers to your team.

  • Staff Correctly. Just how you wouldn’t leave your stores understaffed during high traffic holidays, you shouldn’t leave your social media channels understaffed either. This means you should have a team on hand to handle negative complaints during peak times (think Black Friday, Labor Day, Presidents’ Day, etc.) when issues could come up in store, online, or with delivery.

  • Speak Their Language. Social media speak should be casual, friendly, and relatable. While it’s important to come across as professional and use proper punctuation and grammar, you should ditch the formal, customer service clichés. Coming across as too stiff could upset the customer further, so be sure to meet the user on their level.

  • Watch Out For Trolls. At one point on your social media channels, you’re likely going to encounter someone who is simply never going to be happy. If you have done everything in your power to fix their issue, simply stop engaging. There comes a point when you’re adding fuel to the fire by engaging further.

  • Escalate Accordingly. If you’re seeing a similar complaint time and time again, don’t just sit by and respond - do something about it! It’s important to escalate these issues to the appropriate team. Community managers have a unique view of the health of the company, and this valuable feedback can actually make a significant impact on your company.

How to Handle Negativity on Social Media Channels

To sum it up, don’t feel helpless when it comes to negativity on social media. Sentiment can easily be changed when your company handles these concerns with sensitivity and care. So go forth and problem solve, you social media masters!

If you want to chat more about reputation management, contact us at social@reverie.com.