How do you respond to social media criticism of your business on social media?

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s essential these days to find a way to connect on social media. Customers expect businesses to reach out to them in some way on social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, there is a social connection with businesses when they leave online reviews, such as via:

  • Google Local
  • Yelp
  • TravelAdvisor
  • Amazon
  • Your own website product review sections
  • Company blog comment section.

When customer comments, particularly negative comments, go unreviewed or unremarked upon by a business, it can negatively impact the perception of the business by prospective customers, hurting the company bottom-line.

(NOTE: Better Business Bureau complaints require a more involved resolution process, and are outside of the scope of this article.)

Stay in Step with Your Customers

The first thing you as a business owner or media manager need to do is own your online presence. This may seem obvious, but a surprising number of small and medium-size businesses do nothing to claim their Google Local business listing, their Yelp profile, or (where relevant) or other reviewing-type sites or directory sites.

The key to this is to go to the listing site and claim your business listing. In some cases, you may need to produce some documentation as to how you are the business owner, which may take a few steps.

Google Local, Yelp, and Travel Advisor are all relatively easy to claim. From there it is a short step to buff up your Profile with text and photos, and to then respond to reviews.

Respond to Negative Reviews

Online users pay attention to reviews. The importance of responding to negative reviews can’t be emphasized. Without it, you are in a defensive position.

Here are a few tips on responding to customers online, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or another social channel.

  • Respond in a timely manner.  Within 24 hours is ideal.
  • Keep it light – humor is never off the table
  • Be gracious. If you made a mistake, admit it.
  • Never respond with harsh words to a harsh review.

In social media, the customer may not “always be right,” but keep in mind that other customers (or potential customers) are always listening, so your tone as a business is important.

To handle specific types of criticism:

If someone has written a negative review of your product….See if there is a way of resolving the problem with the product. If not, thank them for their feedback.

If someone has written a negative review of an experience in your service or retail establishment…Thank them for their feedback, and ask them for specifics so you can address the problem in the future.

If someone is trolling your business…You’ll know it. It will sound like spam and be unrealistic in its criticism. It could be somebody being paid by your competitor.  Or it could be somebody having a bad day.  Be careful in how you word a response – don’t throw anything negative back at these kinds of customers. “We’re sorry you have this impression of X Brand.” might be sufficient. And don’t re-engage if they keep coming back.

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