How to Deal With Negative Feedback on Social Media

Mariam Noronha
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What happens when a brand using social media as a part of its promotional strategy, gets negative feedback on a public forum?  Is deleting negative feedback the solution or will it just draw more flak?  Well, a better way of working around it is to get a thicker skin and to have a strategy in place to deal with negative feedback. Here are some ideas on how to deal with negative feedback on social media.

But first the background for this post.

Wake up and smell the coffee folks!  That’s what coffee lovers in India felt in October last year when global coffee giant, Starbucks set up shop in India. As part of its promotional strategy, Starbucks took the social media route to promotion.

The brand managed to create a buzz on social media by popping the question, "What is your passion for coffee?”, a move strongly geared to personalize the coffee experience, before it opened its store at Hamilton House, Connaught Place, Delhi.  The campaign garnered a great response on the brand’s Facebook page of the brand with more than 15K fans asking – “What is your passion for coffee.” Everything seemed to be going well until there were accusations about some negative feedback being deleted from the brand’s Facebook page.

The brand stepped in to damage control mode and stated that they did no such thing.  I’m not getting in to the who, how and why of the Starbucks incident simply because that is not the aim of this post.  This post is about how to deal with negative feedback on social media so let me get back to that right away…

1. Get a Thick Skin

This I believe is necessary because much as we all love positive feedback, we also need to be realistic and accept that not all feedback we get will be positive. Negative feedback should be expected and welcomed as a means to improve performance, service and quality. It should not dent a company’s confidence.

2. Use it as a Tool for Improvement

Use negative feedback as a tool for improvement in future. Thank the customer for pointing out the flaw, accept that he or she was inconvenienced and offer to make it right through a product or coupon or replacement or substitute if possible. You can even ask the customer how you can make it right for them.

3. Don’t Brush It Aside

When anyone complains, be it a child or your customer, listen, instead of brushing it aside. When people are brushed aside they become more irate. By hearing them out, you show your willingness to listen.

4. Don’t Delete Comments

On a public platform, people will have spotted feedback whether positive or negative even before you know it. Deleting negative feedback is defensive behaviour and is likely to show a lack of confidence on the brand’s part. Keeping it will help you gain confidence in the eyes of the customer who has been at a loss as well as several others who are likely to be watching and getting influenced by it all.

5. Follow up

If you are unable to take immediate action on the matter then don’t be afraid to say that you will do it in a certain time frame. Define the time frame and let everyone know by putting it up on Facebook or Twitter or any other platform on which the complaint has been made. More importantly, follow up on the matter by writing to the customer and letting him or her know what action you have taken. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to improve your product, experience, delivery mechanism, packaging or any other service

As a brand or business owner you should welcome any scope for improvement. So, welcome positive feedback but do not recoil in case you receive negative feedback. Use it as an opportunity to show strength of character as a company and brand, and you will win fans while scoring brownie points on the public relations front.

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