Responding to Your Social Media Haters in 11 Steps
Even the most successful business receives negative comments every once in a while, especially on the Internet, where people are free to be brutally honest—or over-the-top negative—about their experience with a brand. But negative comments can hurt your reputation and future business, and they’re certainly not something you can ignore.
That’s why it’s vital that you commit to responding appropriately to all negative comments before they even appear, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform. Sometimes it’s a review, sometimes it’s a comment or tweet—no matter how the negative comment is presented, make sure you reply with these steps:
1. Actually Respond
When you become aware of a negative comment on one of your social media platforms, it may be tempting to brush it off, especially if your work is piling up or you just down-right disagree with the customer’s claims. However, responding to all negative feedback shows your proactivity as a business, that you care about fixing issues, and that you put in the time and effort for your customers.
2. Respond Quickly
Don’t wait to respond in hopes that the commenter will change their mind. It’s best to respond within 15 minutes, or an hour at the most. Any longer and other social media users will see the negative complaint without your response, which will further put your business in a negative light.
3. Keep It Short
Too long of a response will make skimmers lose interest. Too short, and you may not communicate enough to help your cause. We recommend writing 3-4 sentences for your response.
4. Use Their Name
Using the commenter’s or reviewer’s username or handle adds a personal touch that shows you value the individual’s feedback. It also shows that you’re speaking directly to them and giving them your attention, a similar effect as using a person’s name in a face-to-face conversation.
5. Thank Them
Thanking angry customers is a sign of humility and approachability. It recognizes their value, even if on the inside you’re rolling your eyes. Start and/or end the response with “thank you for bringing this to our attention” or something similar.
6. Apologize When Appropriate
Like thanking the person who commented, show sympathy by sincerely apologizing when appropriate.
7. Explain the Situation
Negative comments sometimes come from a place of ignorance, and readers viewing these comments are only seeing one side of the story. Therefore, you should always explain what went wrong in the context of the person’s complaint.
8. Provide a Solution
If you provide a solution in your response, it communicates your desire to fix the client’s problem and improve your business practices.
9. Invite Them to Follow Up
If there’s no immediate way to provide a solution, then always invite the commenter to follow up by including your business’s phone number or asking them to visit your location.
10. Bury the Review in Positive Ones
After you’ve responded, encourage other customers or clients to leave honest reviews. Whether you request reviews in person, through email, or find creative ways to entice people to write reviews, the more reviews, the more likely that negative comment will be an outlier and less likely to seem reliable to readers.
11. Ban or Block Them
Is your commenter just an Internet troll? If they’re leaving especially hateful comments, including using profane language, racial slurs, or anything else offensive, you can often ban or block them. You don’t want to do this to every “hater” that leaves negative feedback, but occasionally there may be a person who’s just commenting to cause trouble and isn’t looking for a solution.
Responding to a complaint on social media requires calmness, poise, and sometimes light-hearted wit. Thankfully, your response can be the factor that turns something negative into something positive.