Social Media Management: How to Respond to Criticism & Negative Comments

Social Media Management: How to Respond to Criticism & Negative Comments

 As a brand, you want to come across as a social human being and not as some money making machine devoid of any emotions. Being human on social media comes with many advantages: people emotionally connect to what you’re saying, they trust you, they interact with you. However, it has its own share of cons as well, one of them being making mistakes. To err is human, as the good old adage goes.  

What should you do when your social media strategy doesn’t run along the expected lines? 

What happens when the tweet you thought was humorous sparks a huge controversy? Or the post that was supposed to get you loads of positive comments went horribly wrong.  

 One of the examples of savvy damage control is how Greggs Bakery responded after a fake and offensive logo appeared on Google.   

 However, not many brands can manage social media fails the right way. Does Chapstick’s “Where Do Lost Chapstick’s Go?” ring a bell?  

 The ad showing a bent-over woman’s ass caused a huge uproar. Angry women flocked to Chapstick’s Facebook page and posted messages of protest. But Chapstick instead of addressing the messages deleted them. This angered the users more and they vented out their rage on different platforms. Here’s what Margot Magowan blogger and founder of Reel Girl wrote on SFGate:  Well, apparently Chapstick feels we have no right to comment on it, even when they invite us to “BE HEARD”  in their ad copy. All attempts at protesting their use of a bent-over woman’s ass to sell their “hide and seek with Chapstick” message were immediately removed from Chapstick’s Facebook page. You would think this would be outrageous enough, and yet it gets much more interesting:  men who want to BE HEARD on the site making comments like “after looking at this pic i know right where i wanna hide my chapstick” do not get censored by the company.Chapstick isn’t the only company that didn’t know how to cope with social media criticism. In a report from Ethical Corp only 15% companies are fully prepared to deal with social media criticism. 

 Here’s a tiny not-do list to help you manage social media criticism the right way – 

1) Not acknowledging

Burying your head in sand like an ostrich thinking that doing nothing will make the problem disappear doesn’t work in social media. Acknowledge the problems immediately. 42% of users complaining on social media expect response within an hour.   

 Another study which focussed on Twitter found that 53% of users who tweet to a brand expecting them to respond want an answer in less than an hour. That figure increases to 72% when it’s about complaining users. The study also noted that:  When companies don’t meet these lofty response expectations, 38 percent feel more negative about the brand and a full 60 percent will take unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction.The implications of failing to respond quickly on Twitter are serious and the majority of users will escalate their negativity — from closing their wallets to publicly shaming the brand on social media. In fact, 74 percent of customers who take to social media to shame brands believe it leads to better service. Heard the United Breaks Guitar video by Dave Carroll? Here’s the story as told by Dave –  In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didnt deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise. The video in a very short span became an internet sensation. But all the while United didn’t comment/ interact with Dave. After the video racked up 150,000 views United Airlines contacted Dave and offered to make the payment and delete the video. But by then Dave had changed his mind. He asked them to give the money to the charity. It’s fetched over 14 million likes & 25,000+ comments. As promised there were 2 more videos released – United Breaks Guitar 2 fetched over 1 million views and United Breaks Guitar 3 has received over 750000 views. 

2) Not Engaging

What did Walmart do when its tweet about employing veterans got negative response from one of the veterans? “We are honored to employ #veterans & support them and their families in every way we can. ‘RT’ to join us in saluting America’s heroes.”  But one veteran wasn’t happy with how Walmart was dealing with the entire thing. He tweeted back saying“Bullshit I put my app in and didn’t even get a call back, walmart sucks a hairy asshole.”Walmart previously would’ve let this tweet die with thousands of others criticising it. But no, this time the supermarket chain tweeted back saying“Please review our Welcome Home Commitment to learn more about opportunities & support efforts:”Here’s what GE’s vice-president of corporate communications Gary Sheffer has to say about engaging with complaining users  Every three seconds we see something posted online about GE – not all of it good – and so if you’re not out there engaging with people in discussion authentically, you’re losing out.”In many instances when a user complains you don’t have the solution to his problem at that moment. In such cases buy time and take the conversation offline. Ask the user to email his coordinates as someone from the concerned team will contact him soon. Pass on the details to the team and follow up with them whether they contacted the user or not.  

3) Delete Negative Comments 

Negative feedback on social media is a reality – the sooner you grasp the fact the better it’s for you. You’ve to accept the positive and the negative of the social landscape. Deleting negative comments from your social pages portrays you as a tyrant who doesn’t give a shit to what people are saying. Also, you need to understand – you don’t own the internet. You’ve the power to control who’s posting what on your page but you can’t control what these users post about your business at other channels. If Chapstick would’ve engaged with the angry users rather than deleting the negative comments then the fiasco wouldn’t have garnered so much attention; users wouldn’t have gone to other platforms to vent out their outrage; may be the SFGate article would have remained as a draft.  

4) Abusing / Threatening 

 When a social media crisis happens first thing to remember is Don’t Lose Your Calm & Don’t Abuse. Amy’s Baking Company is a restaurant located in Scotsdale and is till date discussed for their most psychotic and bizarre public rants on Facebook against unruly commenters.  Vodafone India in 2011 had issued a legal notice to Dhaval Valia, a customer, for criticizing the mobile service provider on Facebook. The news got viral: it got covered by international bloggers, magazines and newspapers. And the worse part was the slew of negative comments by users against Vodafone India on different social platforms. As a result the mobile service provider withdrew the notice and issued a statement saying: Vodafone Essar states that the legal notice served to the customer has been withdrawn in good faith. Vodafone Essar would also like to take this opportunity to inform that as a customer obsessed organisation, we have always welcomed critical feedback and suggestions from both direct and social media customers as it helps us to constantly improve ourselves to serve their discerning needs. 

5) Not Documenting 

The user’s comments and your response – everything should be documented. This is important incase the matter turns into something more serious.  We can help you in your social media marketing endeavours. Get in touch with us or fill in the no-obligation form.