How to turn social media haters into fans

If your business has a presence on social media, one of your goals is to maintain a good online reputation with your customers and prospects. But what do you do when someone says something negative about your business on Facebook, Twitter or Yelp?

Too often, businesses don’t respond to negative comments on their social media accounts. It may be because the owner is unsure how to handle public negativity. Or worse, no one in the organization is monitoring the company’s social media. But silence is a bad idea: According to HubSpot, 72 percent of customers complaining to a company via Twitter expect a response from the company within an hour. Ignoring these complaints is a bad idea. If a customer in your brick-and-mortar business walked up to you and lodged a complaint, would you silently walk away from them? Of course not. That would be poor customer service. When you ignore negative online feedback, you’re ignoring the customer, telling that customer – and others – that they’re not worth your time. Done often enough, this can affect your reputation as well as your bottom line. Social media puts word-of-mouth advertising on steroids, and that goes for both positive and negative advertising.

How do you handle negative social media posts?

  • Have a plan. The people on your team who handle social media need to be trained to monitor comments and respond appropriately as necessary. Get it down on paper and make sure everyone on the team understands the rules. It’s also a good idea to publish your company’s social media policy on your blog and social media profiles. This policy can also set boundaries for what types of comments will get deleted, and who will be banned from your site. It’s one thing to get a complaint from a real customer, but no one needs to suffer trolls.
  • You must respond to any negative comments left by a customer. Everyone wants to be heard, and often just acknowledging the complaint will diffuse an otherwise unpleasant situation. Thank the customer for their comments. Consider the valid points; complaints are an opportunity for your business to improve.
  • Extend an olive branch. Author and executive coach Michael Hyatt tells the story about a time he got a few negative reviews on Amazon for one of his books. Hyatt responded to the comments by offering a gift card for the price of the book. Out of some five one-star reviews, only one responded, but here’s what Hyatt said it did for him: It gave him a chance to set things right with those customers, take the higher ground, and got him on the record as someone values integrity and customer satisfaction.
  • Accentuate the positive. It’s certainly more fun to get positive feedback than negative, so when you do, respond to those too! Thank them. Tell them you appreciate their patronage. Showing gratitude is one of the best ways to establish a strong customer relationship, and turn even upset customers into true fans of your business.

Need to build a social media strategy but don’t know where to start? SweetWater Marketing can help.  Contact us today at (256) 617-2092 or

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