A common concern for businesses using social media I hear is, "I don’t want to deal with the negative comments. You can’t stop it from happening."
Those comments are founded in truth – you can’t stop negative people from leaving not-so-positive comments. It happens with any brand, regardless of the platform they’re utilizing to connect with customers.
So what do you do when you get those negative comments? It may be a subtle jab of disappointment, a scathing remark, or an apocalyptically mad customer blasting the Internet. Regardless of the gravity of the situation, the steps taken to service the angered customer will influence other fans witnessing the situation. Social media is public relations(hips) – treat negative comments seriously and the experience will build brand affinity. Ignore them and you lose customers.
We had a situation recently when a disgruntled customer left an angry comment on a client’s Facebook timeline. The client is in the auto industry. The unhappy Facebook fan posted a link to a class action lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. from June 2011 and left a seething comment attempting to remove credibility from the dealership.
The reason for the gap between the last two comments is because the fan connected with the client first thing the next morning - which is why the next comment is thanking him for calling and wishing him a great weekend. As you can see from the exchange, this could have been disastrous for the client. In these situations there are three tips for dealing with upset Facebook fans that we follow.
Don't leave negative comments sitting on a Facebook page. Not addressing it as soon as possible will seem like you’re avoiding the situation and hoping it will just go unnoticed - which never happens. Handle the situation as soon as possible - always.
Have thick skin. It's almost a requirement for involvement with social media community management. Sometimes the comments can be hurtful, but at the end of the day it isn't a personal attack. So, when dealing with a negative Facebook fan, always be respectful. "I understand", "I’m sorry", and "Thank you" are magical words that can alleviate a situation. Admit mistakes and take whatever amount of responsibility is necessary (which usually will be full responsibility, given the situation). There’s never a good reason to be rude. A disgruntled fan will appreciate the respect, and so will the rest of the community watching this take place.
Provide a Private Solution
Don’t just thank the individual for voicing an opinion. Offer a solution that will make them feel valued. This should involve contact with someone at your organization via email or phone. That personal connection will allow the conversation to leave the public eyes of fans and be handled directly with a decision maker. This will make the unhappy fan feel like their opinions are heard and valued.
Bonus Tip: Dedicate Someone to Your Community Management
Having someone dedicated to managing your social media community is the only way to catch these comments as they’re happening and ensure minimal lag time in responding. Depending on the size of your community, and how often they’re posting content to engage with your fans, this can be a full-time job. Regardless, having a dedicated community manager is worth the investment when you consider the fan engagement and damage control they provide.
What other tips have you found helpful in dealing with negative Facebook comments?