When and How to respond to a Social Bashing

Every now and then, you may come across a post about your brand that’s not all that cool. The source may be an unhappy customer, or someone else who’s just after hurting you. The scenarios are manifold, and each has its own tactic to react. But ignoring the post is not always the best course of action.

Social media platforms are public, very popular, and have their own peculiar way of promoting posts virally. That of course can go either way; the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly. And since these sites are of a very democratic nature, there isn’t much you can do to get these posts removed, no matter how much you disagree.

So how do you go about dealing with a post that just bashed your beloved brand on a site that has over a billion users? Some might argue that ignoring the post is the best approach. We beg to differ.

Presuming that the post was not made by someone who’s just after blood, you can rest assured in that whoever made the post has reached quite a level of frustration to go public with his/her problem. Someone in your customer service department must have not been listening, or there was some other sort of miscommunication. Either way, the problem isn’t going to go away and you need to deal with it.

Here’s one of the positive angles though; you now get to demonstrate to the public how your brand really cares, and that you take complaints very seriously.

Obviously, you can’t do much about the complaint being out there in the public, but you can turn it around to your advantage. You must keep an open mind, put yourself in the complainer’s shoes, and figure out a way to solve the problem (and impress the masses that are watching.) At the same time though, you don’t want to open a can of worms you can’t close.

So for example, offering free replacement products is not necessarily the best solution as you might get a flood of similar requests from other readers who suddenly feel compelled to replace their laptops because you’ve signaled out that this is how you react to a public complaint.

Assuming that the post was not of a personal or totally ridiculous nature, you would need to respond immediately by expressing your sorrow for the person’s frustration. (You don’t want to jump straight into apologizing, because that would insinuate admittance to a wrong-doing.) You could start by introducing yourself, and that thoroughly looking into this situation is now your priority. You may also want to state that ensuring total customer satisfaction within the boundaries of your company’s policies is not negotiable and an integral value of your brand. You will then ask the complainer to contact you directly via a (landline) phone number that you will provide, or via a direct message if that’s possible on the platform in discussion.

You have now effectively demonstrated to the public that you genuinely care, and that you are on top of things. Now it’s time to get to work and resolve the current issue to the complainer’s satisfaction.

Again, it is important here to remain reasonable. So let’s assume the problem was caused by a dead laptop battery that just passed the warranty period by a week. Yes, the warranty expired, but there’s that common sense that tells you a battery should live longer than a year and a week. So in this case, you would offer a free replacement battery with no additional hassle. Most likely, the manufacturer will agree to absorb the cost. And once that is done, you would contact the complainer again to make sure he/she is happy, and delicately ask them to post something to the previous trail that describes how you – the hero – effectively solved the problem and that everything is peachy now. That person will at this point be so happy with the new battery that he/she is more than willing to make the post. And if not, you can always post another reply thanking the complainer for his/her cooperation, and stating that you are confident in that the situation has been rectified in a satisfactory manner (just so all others know you’ve done something about the complaint behind the scenes).

Life isn’t always that simple though. So let’s change this scenario a bit, and assume the warranty expired two months ago. Your discussions with the complainer take you nowhere because he/she is not being reasonable about it, despite the fact that you explained that you are willing to go one month beyond the warranty, but can’t do better than that. Let’s also assume that the complainer is infuriated and makes another post about how you wasted his/her time and ended up doing basically nothing. You will now make another post, stating how sorry you feel that the person is – after exhausting all efforts – still not satisfied with your company’s customer service, and that you cannot be reasonably expected to extend your standard warranty for longer than month beyond its original duration.

The public is now reading that you are willing to go the extra mile with them if they purchase your product. They will most likely sympathize with your brand for having been bashed wrongfully, and regard the complainer as being unreasonable. They could even go as far as making a post to that end, which would be great. (But you of course wouldn’t comment on any of those posts as you don’t want to be perceived as wanting to “rub it in” with the initial complainer.)

In conclusion, when it comes to dealing with public comments that are negative, there is no one-fits-all solution. You have to use your common sense, put yourself in the place of the other person, and do your best to find a win-win situation.

At the same time, you want to keep the public engaged to demonstrate how your brand cares about its customers and is responsive, which is after all what a great deal of social media marketing is all about.

About the Author

Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.

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2 thoughts on “When and How to respond to a Social Bashing

  1. Pingback: Social Media Marketing; some do’s and don’ts | Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting

  2. Pingback: Common mistakes brands make in Social Media Marketing | Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting

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