How to deal with negative engagement on social media

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Aleida Brink

Social Media Specialist


Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool, which can be used to build brand awareness and create a positive brand sentiment.

However, with great power comes great responsibility, and it is all too easy for a social media disaster to undo all the hard work which has gone into your social media strategy. Dealing with negative social engagement in an inadequate way, or ignoring these posts completely, can quickly turn into a PR nightmare.

Fortunately, handling social complaints well can lead to improved customer relationships and better brand reputation. These are our top tips for dealing with negative social engagement.

Create house rules

Social media complaints can range from the polite to outright abuse, and it’s important to protect your brand and your staff. Setting up ‘house rules’ or guidelines of what behavior is and isn’t acceptable provides a clear-cut line of when users or social posts can be blocked or deleted.

Some things to consider in your house rules are:

  • When does repeat posts constitute as spam?
  • When should content be classed as abusive or offensive?
  • Should off-topic and irrelevant posts be deleted?

Monitor all channels

Not all complaints and comments made about your brand on social media will be directed to your social handles, so it’s important to proactively monitor various social media channels to see who is talking about your brand. It’s easy for negative comments to snowball when left unchecked, so monitoring and reacting as and when they occur can prevent issues from escalating.

Acknowledge all comments

It can be tempting to ignore complaints and negative comments about your brand, particularly if they’re grumbles about issues that have since been resolved – such as delayed delivery, or a poor experience in store. It’s important to reply and let your customer know that they are being listened to, even if it is simply to acknowledge their frustrations and apologize for their experience.

Not only does this help to manage your relationship with the customer in question, but it also works to manage your reputation with other customers and potential customers by showing that you care about all customer experiences.

Move complaints out of the spotlight

Complaints made over social media are in the public sphere, and it’s important that you acknowledge the complaint in public so that anyone who comes across the complaint can see you’ve responded.

However, it is usually best to move the conversion out of the limelight thereon. One way to do this is to ask the individual to send their details over direct message – this works to also protect their privacy. Other options include having a dedicated email, number or contact form for social media users to raise their issue with.

Stay true to your brand

Your brand identity and tone of voice should not change when dealing with customer complaints. Of course, all genuine complaints should always be handled empathetically, but when it comes to social media users making tongue in cheek or negative comments about your brand (rather than a product, service or experience they’ve had issues with), a feisty or sassy response can pay off well if your brand is known to have a cheeky personality.

Negative engagement doesn’t have to be negative

In an ideal world, brands would only ever receive positive comments and praise. In the real world, however, most brands aren’t perfect, and listening to negative feedback can be a step towards improving your business.

Customer complaints can provide insights into what works, and what doesn’t work, and taking in these comments and feeding them into the wider business can help to inform everything from your product development to your marketing strategy. By listening to feedback and incorporating it into your business strategy moving forward, you can create products and services you know that your customers want.

Responding to customer complaints and issues on social also has the added benefit of showing social media users that you care about your customers, which can build up brand trust and reputation. Turning someone’s negative experience into a positive one through good customer service can also be the difference between losing a customer and gaining a brand ambassador.


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