Reacting To Negative Feedback In Social Media – Part 2

Cassandra Aw

Leaping onto the social media bandwagon is often viewed as a risky move by companies, because it essentially means you are letting everyone out there see what others think of your company. There is always the fear of having to deal with negative feedback making its rounds on social networks. In our last post, Reacting To Negative Feedback in Social Media – Part 1, we compiled a list of tips on how you can deal with negative comments in social media. Now let's continue with the rest!

6) Don't Stoop To Their Level

There's constructive criticism, and then there's trolling, which is essentially a form of unwarranted personal attack. Such comments are meant to anger and provoke and the best response to them is to just let them be. By giving in to the temptation for an all-out verbal war you are wasting your time and putting your brand's reputation on the line. Remember, nothing is sacrosanct on social media and all 500 of the troller's (including yours!) friends are going to witness every moment of it.

7) Don't Overdo It

It is actually possible to apologise too much. Domino's Pizza is one example.

Apologising too much can undermine your credibility, particularly in a social media setting where your every response and move is observed by hundreds or even thousands of fans and followers. It positions you as being subservient and even unreliable. This is a pity if the criticism given stemmed out of a misunderstanding which a perfectly reasonable explanation, delivered promptly and courteously, can easily fix.

8) Be Consistent With Your Brand Image

Be careful with the tone you use when responding to feedback through your company's social network account. Your "uh"s, "idk"s, bad spelling and attitude are going to be perceived as part of your company's image. Simply put, how you respond to feedback needs to be in sync with the brand image. For example, the perky, happy-go-lucky tone used by Ben & Jerry's Singapore's social media marketing staff works because it suits their cheery brand personality.

9) Turn a negative comment into a positive one.

It's a challenge, but it is entirely possible. And the benefits are tremendous. According to The Retail Consumer Report in 2011, retailers have a chance to turn disgruntled customers into social advocates by listening and proactively responding on the social web. The research also stated that those who received a reply in response to their negative review:

  • 33% turned around and posted a positive review.
  • 34% deleted their original negative review.

These are pretty good odds, if you ask us.

10) Keep A Cool Head

It may seem like a no-brainer, but too often, our defense mechanism instinctively kicks in when we are faced with negative feedback. And when we respond to these comments in the heat of the moment, what comes out inevitably sounds aggravated and aggressive, which serves to worsen the situation further.

Our advice? Give yourself a moment to cool down and think about the consequences before penning that reply. There's no point in responding swiftly if it's impulsive, which could in turn worsen the situation rather than diffuse it.

An example: In 2009, Singapore blogger Veron Ang posted  a list of restaurants that do not serve water on her blog.

The Tapas Tree, which apparently did serve water but had somehow ended up on the list, threatened to sue if their name wasn't removed. When we last checked, they are still on the list. Perhaps a softer approach would have made Ms. Ang more receptive to their demands.

In short, when in doubt, handle social media with tact and common sense. Do you know of any firms who were able to convert unhappy customers into satisfied converts through the artful handling of their negative feedback? Do share with us! 🙂

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