Sometimes people just aren’t very nice. You know that feeling when you just have to clench your fists and boil silently with anger? Well yeah, that feeling also exists online, but when running a professional social media account, you have to handle those situations with class and some tact. No matter how badly you want to pull a Tinder-like Twitter meltdown, you will be kicking yourself later with that knot in your gut thinking, “why would I ever think that was a good idea”.
As thankful as I am for the direct connection between businesses and customers, it comes with struggles of its own. Social media has given everyone online two important tools, a megaphone and a magnifying glass. When people post a negative comment about a business online, it might not always go viral but the message will be seen and heard by more people than before Twitter was around to provide them with a soapbox. People get a front-row show to how you, as a business, will react to what gets posted online, and trust me, a freak out is much more exciting than a thoughtful, respectful response. You give people a magnifying glass when you choose to respond to negative comments, so be sure not to show any cracks.
The direct link from customer to business is extremely powerful and something often taken advantage of. The more integrated brands become with social media, the more important it it to foster and nurture relationships with your audience. Stay on top of consumer comments and what people are saying; you want to know what people are saying so that you can remedy the problem with the disgruntled customer and keep potential customers from seeing negative comments about you with no response.
I say this with extreme caution. Do not yell and scream and get defensive. You have the opportunity to apologize to an unsatisfied customer and explain to them and everyone online that an unsatisfactory experience is not acceptable and you will make sure the problem gets resolved. If the issue isn’t addressed, it looks like you’re ignoring it and not in tune with your customers.
Instant communication is so much easier than someone trying to call in and ask questions on the business phone. That of course is totally acceptable, but social media and review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List allow you to answer questions and concerns in a public space. If one person has a question, it’s likely that others out there have the same question.
Put Out Fires
It doesn’t happen very often for small businesses, but if information starts to get passed around it is easy for it to get out of control and take on a life of it’s own. You have the platform to make an official statement or clear the air before it gets too out of control. Responding to negativity should always be done professionally and without getting defensive. The last thing you want to do is make the situation worse. You might feel that you need to stand up for yourself and your brand, which you can, just respectfully and without offending anyone.
Reviews and interaction on social media and websites goes a long way in nurturing relationships with your audience. Take a few deep breaths and respond to negativity when you know you can be level headed. If a customer or potential customer took the time out to write a review, there is obviously an issue there that needs to be addressed. To learn more about social media best practice, check out our free resources for tips on everything from social media to blog basics and get started communicating with your audience.
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