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7 Tips for Dealing With Criticism of Your Business on Social Media

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7 Tips for Dealing With Criticism of Your Business on Social Media

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 11, 2012 Updated: October 11, 2012

Not sure how to handle negative comments or criticism of your business on social media? Is the open nature of social media actually stopping you from jumping on board?

Receiving criticism is never easy; it can also damage your business reputation. However, feedback and criticism in an open and social forum also gives your business an opportunity to deflect negativity and even earn you respect – if you handle it right.   

Here are some steps you can take to manage criticism of your business, products, or even staff on social media and online review sites.

1. Get Listening

The first thing is making sure you hear what is being said about you by monitoring the social media sites where you have a presence. Check your Facebook page regularly, monitor your Twitter mentions and set up Google Alerts so you can track when your business is being mentioned online. You may also want to check your Yelp, Google+ Local, Trip Advisor and other listings for customer comments. Don’t forget industry, product or even local community forums. For example, does your neighborhood or home owner’s association have an online forum?  Folks may be reviewing local businesses there.

2. Should You Respond?

You may feel tempted to respond quickly to a negative comment or even delete it. But negative reviews aren’t always worth a response. Some posters may be negative just to get attention, or their comments are just so over the top and rude that responding to them will only draw attention to an issue that clearly is a one-off or that no one else is aware of. Sometimes it’s just best to ignore these posts.

3. Don’t Let Negative Comments Linger

Social media doesn’t wait for anyone. Fans have come to expect a timely response from brands they follow. By chiming in early you can quickly stop others from jumping in on the topic while demonstrating that you value opinion and feedback. 

Even if you don’t have an immediate answer, tell the commentator that you hear them, acknowledge their complaint, and promise to investigate further. “I’m sorry to hear this…” is a great softener and shows you care.

4. Always Acknowledge, Never Deny

Accept that the customer is always right and acknowledge it and investigate to get to the root cause of their feedback or criticism. Where did your business go wrong? Was it a simple misunderstanding or do you need to make changes internally? Avoiding feedback or criticism may come back to bite you.

5. How to Apologize

If you find that your business has been in the wrong or you’ve let your customers down, apologize sincerely. Acknowledge that you’ve investigated the complaint. State clearly that you regret the poor service that the customer has received (i.e. you know what a pain it is when things don’t go as expected), cite it as a lesson learned and let everyone know you will take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Above all, avoid formal language. Take off your sales and marketing hat and be human. End your posts with your name, so the complainant knows who they’re dealing with. Be conversational: “I’m so sorry you had this experience. Let me look into it right away and get back to you – Todd,” instead of: “Your comment has been acknowledged. We will look into this matter further.” You might even own up to the fact that you’ve been experiencing some hiccups in one particular area – whether it’s a new product line, or shipping times – and that you want to hear more if consumers have further issues.

Consider offering to make things right. Ask the customer to email you so that you can either reimburse them or perhaps offer a discount on future purchases. Be sure to follow through on this, look out for the email and respond promptly.

6. Take the Conversation Offline

If you need more information or genuinely feel that this conversation would be better served offline, ask the complainant to contact you directly via email or phone. Make this the exception rather than the rule – and only do it after you’ve publicly acknowledged or apologized for any issues and restated your commitment to customer service. The goal here isn’t putting out the fire out by taking it offline but offering an open invite to continue the dialogue further and address the complainants’ specific concerns. It’s a strategy that works.

7. The Bottom Line

When your business reputation is on the line, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction – and backing it up with action – is a must. Ironically, one unhappy customer converted back into a loyal fan of your business can be far more influential in the word-of-mouth driven world of social media than one happy customer ever can be! So go ahead, embrace comments negative or otherwise – you might just win some more fans!


About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


This topic is my top concern when it comes to social media, but I felt more confidence now getting into this area after reading this article. I agreed business owners should take the conversation offline to deal with it separately. Once the customer becomes happy again, the business owners should suggest the removal of the bad comment to continue building the brand.
I believe you can't please everyone, no matter how hard you try. There are always going to be negativity, you just have to overcome it.
I always repond to critisism from a customer as soon as I see it, I normally apologise all the way, then do anything I need to do to make amense, be it our fault or not. I feel by giving away the odd freebie and explaining why things happened the way they did most people are happy continue to use you and appritiate the honesty.....I never BS people just be honest and it always works for me!
Social media has become crucial in marketing, however it can also damage you reputation. I recently had someone harass me through Twitter and Facebook, I eventually had to contact the police as the person who doing this was also contacting my clients. Long story short the police done nothing and I have to re brand myself so that person wouldn't recognize my company! :(
Great article...I especially like the reminder to "Take off your sales and marketing hat and be human." Also reinforcing the importance of timely acknowledgement / response across all online channels...and that setting up proper in-channel monitoring is necessary to do that. Thanks!
Thanks, Caron. This is an important reminder. Criticism stings, but handled properly, it's a valuable opportunity to connect with our buyers and improve customer service.
I think, subscribing to some other great blogs, observing what they write will keep us inspired, thus not to get short of ideas. any way thanks for the tips.
Thank you Caron, I think - if you find that your business has been in the wrong or you’ve let your customers down, apologize sincerely - is a must.
Very Good Post Caron, The solutions you have given is very useful. This comes under online reputation management, although many of us know about tools by which we can identify areas of trouble about any business or brand but we were very much curious about how to handle and respond.
Thanks for the helpful tips. Even though us business owners know the customer isn't always right we have to treat them as if they are. Your tips on how to apologize are great. I'm usually the one to come right back at a negative comment and deny all negative things about my business, but they way you stated to apologize to them, acknowledge them and then take the conversation offline if need be definitely gives me a different view on how to respond to negative comments. Thanks for your help!


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