6 Tips for Dealing with Social Media Criticism Like a Pro
It doesn’t matter how careful you are, how fantastic your customer service is, or how solid your reputation is; eventually, you’re going to encounter some criticism on social media. It might be a customer who’s unhappy with a product they ordered, someone nit-picking over a tweet you posted, or just a troll trying to get the better of you. In any case, this is a vulnerable situation for your business. Because social media is public-facing, everyone will be able to see the criticism, but more importantly, they’ll be able to see how you deal with it. The type of response you give will have an impact on how the situation plays out. You may appease the critic, or make things worse if you aren’t careful.
So, what’s the etiquette when dealing with social media haters? Here are six tried and tested ways to defuse online tension:
Be aware of the phenomenal speed at which information spreads
Until not very long ago, the only way to complain to a company was to write a letter, make a phone call, or send an email. This took effort and quite a lot of time, and you couldn’t be sure that you’d get a response. The likelihood was you gave up after your first attempt.
Nowadays, information travels within seconds and because social media is a public forum, no organisation can hide from its critics. Your customers, former employees, and stakeholders can all talk about you freely on your social media pages and on their own, whether it’s positive or negative. Therefore, you need to monitor your channels closely and be ready to respond if a disgruntled customer makes a comment.
Gauge the severity of the complaint
The general rule of thumb is, if one person complains, they may well be wrong, but if a lot of people complain, you’re wrong. If you generally receive good feedback and get repeat business, yet one very angry person blows up at you on Twitter, it might just be one angry person on Twitter. Angry people are inescapable, and the most unreasonable are often the loudest. But if a lot of people are upset with you, you should listen to them. Customer service is one area where democracy should prevail. If the majority think your product needs improving for example, then listen, as they’re probably right.
Be overly gracious
Social media users crave attention, so one way to defuse pretty much any situation is to give them some. If a customer criticises your business on Twitter, go out of your way to thank them for their insights. Instead of refuting the claim, accept it and let them know that you appreciate it. If they’re trolling you, they’ll be rendered totally ineffective, and if they’re sincere, they’ll walk away feeling heard and appreciated. There’s no downside here.
Admit, apologise, and make an offer
Sometimes, the best response is a simple one. Be direct and to the point, and don’t mince your words. Where it’s right to do so, admit your company made a mistake. Make a formal apology for the situation, and offer to make it right in whatever way you feel is most appropriate. As long as you’re sincere, the vast majority of critics will be silenced with this approach.
Make fun of yourself
Another tactic is to make fun of yourself. Self-deprecation is a popular type of humour because it’s humble. It shows you’re willing and unafraid to admit your flaws for the purposes of amusing others, showing both your humanity and your organisation’s confidence at the same time. If the criticism is legitimate, feel free to poke fun at yourself to add levity to the situation and simultaneously admit your mistake. This will disarm your critic, and show that your brand has personality. Just make sure you avoid using this tactic on particularly irate users; it will only enrage them further, or make them feel you aren’t listening to them.
Let it Go
The truth is, you can’t please every consumer or satisfy every critic. However, you should make an effort to show your community that you care. Acknowledge a situation and trying to resolve it will only benefit your brand in the long-term