In a recent blog post regarding social media we mentioned the importance of being positive and not complaining when posting on social media. That is because social media continues to grow in use, and more and more people have access to a large audience to voice their opinions and be heard. And while these platforms allow for greater dialogue, some comments and opinions are not positive and some use the anonymity of hiding behind their screens to deliberately express harsh, negative, or even untrue thoughts.

While there continues to be a growing debate now about whether social media is inherently good or bad, it has become clear that companies have moved into this space to reach more people with their branding efforts. Businesses are very aware that the research shows consumers are influenced to buy or not by positive and negative reviews and remarks. Staying out of the conversation is not really an option anymore.

And businesses should to be aware of what is being said about them and have a plan for monitoring and responding. They also need to recognize they can still use others’ criticisms to leverage their brand. Thinking through various comments begins by considering these three main categories that negative comments most often fall into.

Spam – it’s not just about email anymore. You’re thankful for your email spam folder, once you’ve taken a quick peek in it and realize all messages you thankfully didn’t have to see. Well, social media platforms don’t have that yet and unfortunately spam can populate your social media sites and distract your audience from the real messages.

You need to monitor your accounts regularly, so you can address any negative comments immediately. Spam type comments can be deleted or hidden and then further prevented by adjusting your filters in your security settings. Facebook also allows you to block certain words from appearing on your timeline.

Trolls. By definition an internet troll isn’t that different than the mythical creatures. Trolls on social media are just looking to cause a disruption on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit by posting messages that are inflammatory or angry just to provoke a response. The larger your following the more likely you are to be targeted.

You may choose to ignore them, however, others may respond and cause a situation you want to address. Write your response politely and succinctly and move on. If profanity is used the comment should be removed and the person blocked from commenting again. Many people today who use social media regularly recognize these types of comments and are learning to ignore them and move on too.

Customer comments. This is the most important category. Prospects and customers that express legitimate concerns are looking for a quick resolution. Research indicates that resolving customers’ complaints in their favor makes them 70 percent more likely to do business with you again. It is in your company’s best interest to help a dissatisfied customer and respond on the platform that the complaint was aired on. It demonstrates your commitment to quality service and customer satisfaction. Here are a five tactics to remember when responding to negativity:

  • Personalize your response and take a few minutes to make sure you understand their situation. Avoid a cookie cutter response and be authentic.
  • Remember to be polite.
  • Don’t make excuses. Recognize their situation and have a solution for making it right again. If you acknowledge the mistake right away then you’re already in fix it mode, which is good for the customer.
  • Take the conversation offline when necessary.
  • Go the extra mile. If a prospect or customer is on social media leaving a negative remark, that means they’re missing information about your company. Write your response in a way that shows you value their feedback and are willing to do extra work to make things right.

Social media is about being social, so don’t shy away from trying to turn negativity into a springboard for your brand. It’s the beginning of a conversation and you can use it as an opportunity to keep a customer through product/options education and resolution and to reach many more in the process.