Published by on January 23, 2017

Twitter is a fantastic tool to gauge customer experiences, for better or worse. The level of transparency and immediate feedback that you can attain through Twitter can seriously help your business improve. However, it is a two-way street, which means that you should expect to be at the brunt of some negative comments from time to time.

People love to complain when they have had a less than satisfactory experience with something they have purchased. Some people relish the opportunity to sink their teeth into some bad service, which can get heated rather quickly. However, it is important that you handle these negative comments appropriately on Twitter, for both your brand’s online integrity as well as your company’s overall health.

If you can nail handling negative press on Twitter, then you have a unique opportunity to show your audience that you are willing to go that extra mile for them. On the flip side of this, poorly handled negative comments can be toxic for your audience, which can ultimately destroy any positive impact social media platforms can have for your business. So, with that in mind, this post hopes to offer up some sage advice on how to deal with negative comments on Twitter.

Always Engage with a Legitimate Comment

If someone has gone to great lengths to contact you through Twitter, it is usually a smart move to respond in some way. Continuing the conversation is integral to nurturing a positive relationship with your audience, which is particularly true on Twitter. The level of transparency made available to your viewers when it comes to things like complaints on your feed essentially forces your hand to respond. Use these moments to showcase to your audience that you are friendly, helpful and professional.

Another alternative to directly responding to a negative comment is to ask your audience about it. Get their feedback and find out for yourself if the complaint is a valid one. If you harbour a strong relationship with your audience, you should see some honest, candid and incredibly helpful responses.

Keep in mind that you ought to filter some negative comments because they are asinine and of little use to… well, anyone. Spam, obscene language or random attacks – or trolling – should simply be removed. Do not be afraid to take control of your feed and remove any detrimental comments that could damage your brand. However, this is no excuse to attempt to sweep legitimate complaints under the rug, as this will inevitably land your brand in hot water with your viewers.

One brand in the UK that have perfected their customer service on Twitter (and across social media) is the supermarket giant Tesco. A scroll through their Twitter feed will show you just how on the ball they are. Here’s a fine example of their customer support at work:

They’ve dealing with the problem and they’ve done so quickly (on the same day that the complaint was made). This is the level of support you should be aspiring to achieve on Twitter regardless of the size of your business.

Turn Negativity into PR

We’ve all seen the stories in the news when a particular brand turns a customer complaint into a lengthy exchange of comical banter. It’s something that can go terribly so do be cautious when trying to deal with a customer complaint and ensure that the way you respond matches your brand image and tone.

This could have easily backfired, but 4,300 retweets and 1,800 likes later, I think the risk paid off for O2 here.

Ban or Block the Trolls

If things do not resolve themselves amicably at the first pass, persevere. Try every reasonable measure to de-escalate their dissatisfaction and have the commenter remove the post if possible. Generally speaking, if the problem is resolved then this will not be a problem. However, in rare circumstances these resolutions will lead nowhere. It is at this stage that you should consider banning and blocking this particular negative commenter. This is even more pertinent if they are using offensive, foul or derogatory language – so do not be afraid to use this form of moderation if things get hairy.

Do not Give up on Twitter

It is an easy trap to fall into, but it is vital that you do not step away from social media, especially when the pressure is on. Negative comments, trolling and bad press are all part and parcel for businesses that enter the domain of Twitter. Do not let them win. Instead, continue using Twitter in a positive way for your audience. Keep providing useful content and resources, keep the inspirational posts and do not feel deflated. Ultimately, your positive spin will outshine the negative commenters – at this time blatant – smear campaign.

Make Your own Rules and Guidelines

It is important to know how your brand is going to handle a potentially negative commentary on social media if you are using it alongside your company. As a result, it is becoming commonplace for businesses to roll out guidelines specifically for social media. It’s a great idea for anyone using Twitter for business though, not just the big corporations.

Using social media guidelines for Twitter helps your brand avoid any contentious issues online, as well as help with unforeseen circumstances. There is a great degree of flexibility across social media guidelines, however, so deciding on what to cover can be a challenge. One thing to ensure is that you make these guidelines incredibly transparent and easy to understand. Some major tenets to abide by when drawing up some guidelines include honesty about your demeanour and character, mindful posting, understanding copyright issues and trying not to mix business with personal.

Although flexible, social media guidelines should, at the very least, be implemented to avoid controversies online. This is especially true if you are dealing with larger groups of employees, who have the potential to ruin brand reputations online if they do not know how to act. So, where possible, advise all staff on the best practices when using social media for business and personal.

In Summary

Negative commentary on Twitter is almost a rite of passage for companies that dip their toes in social media’s waters. However, handling those comments is what separates a successful brand from a flop. This post has tried to outline a framework that you can use for your business, to ensure that you are successful in your social media efforts.

Whether it is trolls or a genuine complaint, it is important that you act in the right way to rectify the issue. Using Twitter can be a fantastic help when you are trying resolve a concern with a customer. Reaching out to establish a resolution goes a long way, but maintaining your brand’s integrity on Twitter asks for a little more than just that. Hopefully, this post has illuminated the best way to successfully dealing with negative comments on Twitter for your business.