Social media is an indispensable and priceless tool for small businesses. It provides advertising, brand awareness, customer interactions and much more, all in one place, at small business owners’ fingertips. Plus, it’s mostly free.
However, social media is a double-edged sword.
What if you get a less-than favorable review? Or a disgruntled customer leaves a flaming comment? Or even worse, you encounter a troll who’ll throw shade no matter what?
Luckily, there are several effective ways you can deal with social media comments.
1. Be Aware
It goes without saying that you should closely monitor your website as well as your social media accounts to stay on top of any comments you may receive.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to watch your own sites like a hawk. Unhappy customers or trolls don’t necessarily limit themselves to commenting on your social media accounts. In fact, they may leave comments about your business anywhere from their own blogs to Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, or even sites like Glassdoor.
Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you need to patrol the entire internet. Services like Google Alerts send you a notification whenever you business’ name is mentioned anywhere on the web, and especially in the news. This is the most time-efficient way to keep track of what’s happening.
2. Don’t Ignore, Delete, or Fight Back
Ignore it and it will go away? While that approach may work in other areas, in terms of social media comments, it will only make the problem worse.
If you ignore or delete negative comments, you only add fuel to the fire. Your customer will get even angrier and louder, posting more comments and spreading the word about how badly they’re being treated.
Plus, your image is shot. Comments and reviews aren’t a one-to-one relationship. Anyone and everyone who comes across your website or social media account sees these things. The effect is much further reaching than one angry customer.
The same happens if you try to explain yourself or even fight back if you think your customer is being unfair. Again, remember that your exchange takes place in a highly public space. Whatever you say, thousands of potential and real customers can see it. Is that the way you want your brand to be seen?
But what if the commenter is a troll and will badmouth you no matter what?
That’s the only exception from this rule. If you’re absolutely sure you’re dealing with a troll and not a customer with a (somewhat) legitimate claim, explain the situation for the sake of other readers, and state politely but firmly that you don’t tolerate language and behavior like that.
From then on, feel free to ignore trolls and hide their comments.
3. Apologize and Direct the Conversation Elsewhere
Whatever the issue, courtesy can’t hurt. Say you’re sorry about your customer’s experience (even if you’re not responsible) and direct them to the person or team at your business who can help them resolve the issue.
Pro tip, though: don’t be too sorry. Being cordial and admitting mistakes is one thing, making you and your business look incompetent is another. Toe the line here, and do what you can to remain confident in your business practices.
This way, you can take the conversation out of the public eye and help find a solution for your customer. Make sure that the problem is resolved, though. If you don’t offer a solution, the comments will most likely come back with renewed force and venom.
4. Offer Compensation
The customer is always right, especially if they complain on social media, for all the world to see.
While you deal with your customer’s issue, offer them something to assure them of your goodwill. A discount for their next purchase, free shipping with their next order, or anything that can help turn them from an angry customer to a happy one.
Angry-turned-happy customers are a very valuable tool for your business. If you treat them right, they can become your brand’s most fierce advocates.
Since they’ve shown they’re savvy social media users, you can count on them to publicize how well your business resolved their issue and compensated them for their trouble.
Any business can fall victim to negative social media comments. Even if your operation is spotless, your customer service attentive and your payment processes fast and convenient, any small problem may upset a customer and send them to your social media accounts.
Act swiftly, politely, and attentively, and you may just turn the whole issue around in your favor.