6 Tips for Handling Negative Comments Like a Pro

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One of the biggest challenges in social media marketing is giving up complete control of your message. When you create a Facebook page or Twitter account, you expose your company to the opinions of the general public. Pretty much anything goes. But the truth is, even if your company chooses not to participate in social media, you’re still at risk of being talked about in an unflattering light on the Internet. By participating and creating a social presence, you can more effectively monitor and react to any negative comments being written about you.

The worst way to respond to negative comments is to ignore them and hope no one notices. An unanswered negative comment makes you look irresponsible and leads other followers to believe that the comment is true, even if it isn’t. It’s best to analyze the comment and determine your response from there. Of course you can never be prepared for everything people say, but here are a few tips for reacting in a professional and responsible way to negative comments online.

1. Apologize

After all, the customer is always right. Although this can be tough to do (especially if the comment is particularly surly in demeanor), by doing so you show that you are a responsible and respectful adult. If the comment in question truly brings up a valid fault of your company, it’s best to own up to it and respond with a genuine apology. Offer your suggestion to amend the situation that warranted the comment in the first place.

2. Make it Right

Sometimes, a simple “I’m sorry” is not quite enough in the wronged customer’s eyes. They want restitution for the trouble your error has caused them. Try to come up with a gift that matches the severity of the blunder and offer it up to the offended customer. I would suggest extending this proverbial olive branch in private. If word gets out that you bend over backwards for customers who complain, this will just spur a cycle of social media drama. People could start taking advantage of your generosity, and make up ficticious complaints about you, just to score freebies.

3. Set the Record Straight

You may come to find that some negative comments are just downright false. This could be the result of a misinformed fan or someone trying to spread harmful lies about your company. My advice: Assume ignorance. When you assume the commenter simply didn’t know any better, you are more likely to respond in a polite, informative manner. Plus, if this is something that other people are confused about as well, it gives you a chance to clear things up in front of your social media audience.

4. Embrace It

If you determine that the comment was intended to stir up controversy, use it as an opportunity to start a discussion. Chance are, your loyal supporters will see the conversation unfold and jump in on your side. Comments made by your supportive fans serve as informal reviews of your company as they deffend the quality of your product or service.

5. Agree to Disagree

If you’re known for taking a stance on a certain topic, you’re bound to draw comments from people who disagree with you. It’s not your place to try and convince everyone on the Internet to see things your way. Address comments that challenge your point of view with an open mind. Try to see where the challenger is coming from, but in the end, you may just have to agree to disagree on the issue.

6. Watch out for Trolls!

Some negative comments may be completely unwarrented and irrelevant to your company. These comments fall into the “spam” category. People who make negative comments on social networks just for the sake of gaining exposure or drawing negative attention to a company are called trollers. There really isn’t any good that can come of these comments. If the comment is posted on your Facebook wall, as administrator of the page you have the power to delete the post.

In my experience, negative comments are few and far between. When you encounter a negative comment, take a few moments to think about your response before you take action. Figure out a way to turn a negative comment into a positive situation for your company.

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