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Responding to Negative Social Media Posts

Today’s technology makes it easy to engage with customers when things are going great. But what about when things aren’t going so well?

How you engage with them during difficult situations can be crucial to your organization’s survival.

It’s important to do three things: respond quickly, address the concerns with empathy, and offer a solution.

(As a quick side note, be sure to also check out our podcast on Managing Expectations before you respond too quickly…)

Allowing your audiences to feel that they can openly communicate with a specific person in your organization - instead of simply receiving an automated message - is a key part of your response.  

Social media has increased the need for public relations professionals to also handle customer service, and do it properly. How you handle complaints can make or break your reputation and relationship within the community.

If a negative comment appears on your Facebook or Twitter page that you don’t want to answer, just deleting it is not the way to go. The followers will notice this and think you’re hiding something.

You can, however, take the conversation offline, showing the customer that their feedback is important, but also preventing further complaints from being viewed publicly and enticing more public discussion.

If you can resolve the individual’s original complaint, they may even re-enter the social media space with a positive comment about your response.

Whoever is responsible for responding to social media comments should also realize that sometimes you need an objective eye and ear to help you decipher customers’ comments and address their needs – especially in social media.

But the bottom line is to treat conversations on social media much like you would when talking to someone in person. Read what they have to say, think before answering and then respond in a timely manner.

Most of the time, that’ll do the trick.

Crystal DeStefano is President and Director of Public Relations at Strategic Communications, LLC in Syracuse, N.Y. and host of The Strategic Minute podcast.