Transforming online negativity into positive brand loyalty: How negative comments online can actually work in your business’ favour.

smilesNegativity appearing around your brand is a common fear when first engaging with social media. Many people who are new to social media marketing are perhaps fearful that shining a light upon their brand in a public, relatively unrestricted realm will allow damaging negativity to flow freely. We work with many clients who express this fear when we introduce to them our expertly managed social media services. Our response to this legitimate concern is:

Negativity is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be damaging. Viewing negative comments as opportunities helps to keep things in perspective. The benefits of engaging with social media far outweigh the negatives, and every negative comment ought to be seen as a potential lead to create an eventual brand ambassador. The way you handle negativity upon a given platform will ultimately determine the effect said negativity has upon your brand.

So, how should you behave when negativity arises upon your social media channels?

1.Keep calm and stay cool

No good will come from lashing out at negative comments in a knee-jerk fashion. This type of reaction will only serve to stoke the fires and escalate the situation. Take a step back and give yourself a chance to digest the complaint, and think about your response.

2. Never ignore or delete negative comments

If someone came into your store and complained about something would you ignore them or show them the door? No? Then why would you do this online? Ignoring comments will escalate negativity, and deleting them will serve to only enrage the disgruntled customer. It is wholly important to remember:

The average Facebook and Twitter user has 100+ friends/followers upon each platform; if you ignore a user’s complaint the chances are they will tell these 200+ online users that they have been ignored, creating, in turn, a potential 200+ “negative” users towards your brand.

3. Don’t attempt to placate with a hollow, disingenuous apology

“ I’m sorry to hear you’re unhappy with our service; we’ll try harder to meet your expectations in the future”

This type of response serves to only exacerbate the situation. Customers are well aware when they are being fobbed off, and, moreover, this type of response offers no solution to the problem, so you run the risk of losing their custom all together.

4. Keep your replies concise, succinct and to-the-point.

Avoid waffling and stick to the facts. It’s always best to avoid applying emotion and personal opinions to your responses; your customers want a simple answer and a quick resolution.

5. Reply promptly

Whilst it is important to take a step back and gather your thoughts, it is equally important to avoid silence as this can be taken as avoidance. Even if you can’t supply an answer straightaway, respond in a timely manner, and reassure the unhappy user that you are working on a resolution.

6. Reply publicly

Addressing the issue publicly will demonstrate you are in control. Also, your response may answer questions that other customers have, minimising the potential risk of future negativity.

7. Reply privately

Unfortunately, some users offer up negative comments to only cause trouble, and these users ought to be dealt with privately. This tactic is recommended if your attempts to publicly deal with a disgruntled user have been unsuccessful, and their negativity is distracting other users.

8. Offer an apology and a solution

In the light of negativity, always apologise and take the “we hear you, and value your opinion; we will make this right immediately” approach. This is the beginning of the process of turning your disgruntled customer into a brand ambassador. People who invest money and time in your business deserve to have their complaint listened to. More often than not, a disgruntled customer only wants to know they are being listened to, and you will make things better.

9. Keep an eye on the situation

Closely monitor the developing thread and keep in touch with the customer until the issue has been resolved.

10. Hire the services of an expert social media manager

An experienced social media manager possesses the skills and knowledge to handle negative comments in a timely, professional and clever way. Employing a social media manager will take the headache out of dealing with disgruntled customers online, affording you peace of mind that your business is in safe hands, and is protected against irreparable damage.

Dealing with customer complaints online in an effective manner ultimately affords you powerful and free marketing. If you manage to turn a disgruntled customer into a fully-fledged brand ambassador – telling all their friends on and offline how great your business is – you have managed to establish brand loyalty and trust to a degree that could not have been achieved without the complaint being made in the first place.

Has this post been helpful? Do you feel more comfortable and confident about posting upon social media channels?

Perhaps you still feel unsure and would like to discuss how our expert social media services can skillfully handle online negativity. If this is you, get in touch; we’re always more than happy to talk about how we can make social media work hard for the greater good of your business.

01903 790 294

Written by Jo Douglas, Social Media and Content Manager, Springcreate.