03 Mar Addressing Negative Comments on B2B Social Media With 100K+ Followers
When you’re managing social media for small businesses with 1000 or even 5000 followers, you can generally manage any negative comments that come along. Small businesses have the luxury of maneuvering more like a speed boat than a cruise liner. If you’re running the marketing for a large B2B company or retailer, you often can’t maneuver quite as quickly, which makes stopping negative feedback on social media more difficult, even if you have a team of people working on the issue.
The best you can do to stop negative comments is to ensure you are making a quality product, train your staff well and create policies that respect the customer. Even with the best of companies, you’ll get a few complaints, it’s the downside of doing business. Most companies deal with these issues in one of several ways.
Delete negative comments. You already know this isn’t the way to do it. Burying you head in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away. Instead you end up making your followers angry and the situation may get blown out of proportion. That said, we recommend or allow deleting of comments (negative or otherwise) that use foul or offensive language. If this is your B2B social media marketing policy, create a general guideline for what those words/language might be, so the line if more clear should you need to explain the policy to followers.
Ignore negative comments. Again, ignoring the situation makes social media a one way street. You’re talking and not listening, which isn’t what social should be about. When your followers want to talk, you should listen. Sometimes they really just want to be heard. General negative comments like “Your company stinks” especially it appears to come from spam accounts may be ignored, but we do not recommend ignoring specific complaints about issues with your product, customer service, management, or stores.
Create a scripted response. We’ll admit, this isn’t ideal. But if you expect you may end up with upward of 100,000+ followers, it may be impossible to craft a unique response to each issue. How would you respond to a complaint if your company received an email, phone call or other less public form of media? If your best response is to send the customer to customer service, do that. You may create a scripted response that goes something like this “[customer name], we’re sorry you’ve had a problem with this product. We’d like to help. Would you please call customer service at [number].” Even better, [customer name], we’re sorry you’ve had trouble with our service. Would you pm us your email and phone number and the best time to call? We’ll have our customer service department contact you.” The most important part of this response: follow up and be true to your word.
Write a blanket statement. Sometimes production hits a snag and your product comes out less perfect than you like. Add to that a quality department that was having a bad day and just maybe a whole truck of less-than-stellar product leaves your facility. It’s a nightmare scenario, but in the PR department they have a whole book on how to handle nightmare scenarios. In today’s world, it’s possible you’ll hear about the product problems on social media first. When you start to see a trend of multiple complaints about a specific problem in a specific product over the course of 24-72 hours, it’s time to consider a larger response. Hundreds of complaints in a matter of days over various social sites can be burdensome at best. It’s time to work with the PR department and even legal if necessary to craft a statement recognizing the problem and offering a solution. Your customers don’t want to burn you at the stake for one problem, especially if up to now you’ve created a loyal following. If your company ignores the warning signs, however, a barrage of complaints could turn into an angry mob pretty quickly. Posting a statement, however humbling it may be, can stop complaints and make your customers feel heard and validated. It may even save you some face in the long run.
Avoiding social media because you’re afraid of the negative reviews you might receive does not solve any problems. Just because you aren’t on social media doesn’t mean your customers aren’t talking about you there. You just aren’t part of the conversation. Don’t let your fears keep you from being part of the conversation. Make a plan.