Social media is no longer just an option for business. People expect your brand to have a social presence just as much as they expect it to have a website. Social media is not just for marketing anymore–it’s a recruiting platform, a PR launchpad, a way to share content, and most of all, a way to connect with your customers. With that new way to connect comes the customers’ ability to connect with YOU.
If you are running a business, expect your customers to air their complaints, grievances, and frustrations on your social profiles. On the bright side, expect your rabid fans to share their praise for you on them as well.
Why do people do this? They want their opinion in a public place so that you have no option but to answer and they want the world to know they’re upset. Go to any airline’s social profiles and you’ll see endless comments from frustrated customers. You are not alone.
So how do you traverse this scary path of pitchfork and torch-yielding customers? I’m breaking down the ways you can communicate with them without looking bad:
Do not delete.
This is probably the most important point of all. If you delete an upset customers’ comment, you may be inviting a wrath that you didn’t see coming. Not only did you upset the customer in the first place, but you blatantly ignored and deleted their message stating why. What do you think could happen? Best case scenario, nothing. Worst case scenario? A comment tornado stating that you deleting their comment and demanding why, and potentially getting their friends involved. Trust me, you do not want that on your public social profiles.
Do not put this off. If someone is not happy, the last thing they want to do is wait on an answer. A 24-hour maximum response time is encouraged. If you can, try to answer within a few hours rather than days. Getting a lot of these negative comments? It might be time to invest in monitoring software and hire someone to manage them. This is also something a customer support representative could manage.
Use a monitoring tool.
The comments getting to be too much to handle and in too many places? I call that social media ADD. Keep all that stuff in one place with a social media monitoring tool. Here are some options:
- Hootsuite – Not very robust monitoring, but I do like it for social post scheduling. About $10/month.
- SproutSocial – This is what I use. Pretty good monitoring for the price and for a small/medium business. About $60/month.
- Spredfast – This is the big leagues. If you manage social media for Coca-Cola, you are probably using this or something like it. Upwards of several thousand dollars, this one’s an investment, but well worth it.
Express empathy with the frustrated customer. Show them that you understand their frustration and that your goal is to help them. They will appreciate you connecting with them on a human level, and it could turn their entire experience around.
Use Facebook messages to continue a conversation.
Recently, Facebook started allowing pages to respond to comments with a message instead of a comment reply.
I highly encourage you use this. First, respond in a comment that you will be reaching out to them shortly via Facebook message. This is so that you address their comment publicly so it doesn’t look like you’re ignoring them to the rest of the world. It also directs that customer to take a look at their messages.
Use a separate Twitter account.
If your Twitter is blowing up with negativity, you can always create a separate account specifically that represents your support team. This allows your main brand account to be focused on sharing content and marketing instead of responding to negativity. I only recommend this option if your brand is big enough and gets enough complaints to merit it. You will definitely want to give this responsibility to someone who represents customer support at your company.
Hug your haters.
As Jay Baer of Convince and Convert likes to say, “Hug your haters.” Sometimes the most powerful customer relationships can grow out of a negative experience. Why do customers voice their negativity on social media? They are passionate. Passion can be moved in both directions: negative and positive. The ones you really have to worry about are the customers who say nothing at all…and quietly go away.
Have you had any experience with responding to customers on social media? What advice would you give to someone dealing with it for the first time?