How to Handle Negative Feedback on Social Media

Even the most awesome brands get unhappy customers. The problem is, companies are no longer able to deal with complaints quietly. No, today customer pains are tweeted for all to see. And you better believe people are looking and judging your response. We often talk about how to nail your social media marketing, but you must never neglect the importance of customer service on these channels. Here are a few tips that’ll help you deal with negative feedback on social media.

How to Handle Negative Feedback on Social Media

Smell the Opportunity

Imagine yourself as a snot-nosed, pimple-faced 16 year old beginning your first day of work. Now that’s a shocking image isn’t it? Stick with us, this is relevant. So on your first ever day in whatever shop or fast-food restaurant would accept your meagre CV, you’re told all about customer service. “The trick,” your shift manager would explain, “is to resolve any customer’s complaint effectively, so they keep coming back”. Solid advice which is exactly what you need to do on social media.
People will tweet or post about their problems. Don’t view this as a bad thing. No company is perfect. This is just an opportunity to show off your customer service skills in the public domain. If you can resolve the issue effectively, in a short space of time, you can change a disgruntled customer into a loyal one. Not only this, you could also gain a highly engaged Twitter follower.

Different Types of Feedback

So before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to identify the different types of feedback you’ll get: 
  • Pressing – Sometimes a user will tweet or post about a pressing issue which you haven’t anticipated. This is the type of complaint which must be dealt with ASAP. It’s usually worth following this up internally.
  • Constructive – Now this can be tough to accept because it involves the customer telling you how to do your job. Drop your pride and listen to what they’re saying – this is one of the most useful forms of feedback.
  • Disgruntled – It’s not uncommon for customers to get a bit rude on social media. A lot of people fancy themselves as keyboard warriors. Their insulting approach may not be valid but their reason for feeling disgruntled usually is.
  • Spam/Trolls – This is angry and abusive feedback with no valid reason. Alternatively, some accounts will attack your brand/product to promote a competitor’s. Don’t get into a row, it’s exactly what they want. Be sure not to pigeon-hole disgruntled feedback into this category.

Respond to Nearly Everything

Right let’s get this settled quickly. By saying ‘nearly everything’ we don’t mean you should ignore valid concerns. You should however, avoid responding to spam or trolls. Everyone who posts a genuine concern should get a response as soon as possible. Even insulting feedback from disgruntled customers deserves a neutralising reply of some sort.  

Not responding to genuine feedback portrays your brand as being uninterested in the concerns of customers. This will annoy the customer and anyone else who sees the post. In other words… bad day all round.

If you’re unsure whether the feedback you get is real or not, try looking at the customer’s profile. We’ve actually had hands on experience with a troll and it’s simple to spot. We were working on the Twitter account of our client Eatapas. Numerous pictures we posted received some very negative comments from a self-proclaimed gastronomic photography account. At first we were a little disappointed that our photos were looked upon so badly. We then researched the account and realised they actually did this to many, many food based companies as a way of promoting their own work. We didn’t reply and felt no negative repercussions from it.

Don’t Take It Personally

The majority of people who complain are doing so to give you the opportunity to resolve their issue. Usually these people are loyal customers and a negative experience with your brand is unexpected to them. So don’t take it personally, even if the complaint is strongly worded and offensive. Give the customer the benefit of the doubt, let them vent and then deal with the problem.

The worst thing you can do is get upset by the comments you receive. If you’re a business owner who runs the social media account for your brand, this can be seriously tough. Disassociate yourself and look at the issue impartially. Never respond negatively. This opens a whole can of worms that you really don’t want to experience.

Contact the Customer Privately

Sometimes the issue needs additional detail which you’re not comfortable asking for in the public domain. Alternatively, you may not feel happy about notifying the world that you’ll reimburse the consumer. If this is the case, contact the user privately and rectify it away from prying eyes. When you take this approach, be sure to comment/reply to the original post telling the user you’ll contact them privately. This shows others that you’re not neglecting the situation, you’re simply taking a proactive approach to deal with it effectively. 

End With a Call-To-Action

Every blog post or tweet should feature a call-to-action, so why shouldn’t the resolution of complaints be the same? Once you’ve dealt with the issue, thank the customer for their time and direct them back to your service/product. If you can deal with the complaint effectively, the customer is likely to be more receptive. If you leave them feeling good about the situation, take advantage of it by asking for more service. Some brands offer a unique discount code to all users who complain. This gives the customer money off their next purchase as an apology but actually entices them to use the company once more.

Add a Touch of Humour

It’s no surprise dealing with complaints on social media with a touch of humour is one of the most effective ways to go. Here are a few of our favourite examples: 

Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains Twitter Customer Service


Argon Twitter Customer Services


Sainsbury's Twitter Customer Services

How Not to Do It

This is how you shouldn't approach complaints on social media:

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains Poor Twitter Customer Services

British Airways

British Airways Poor Twitter Customer Services

Bank of America

Bank of America

If you need assistance managing your social media account, we can help. We also offer the full range of Digital Marketing services to help your brand grow.

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