In managing social media profiles, one of the biggest client fears which we come across are related to how negative comments and criticism should be handled on social networks. For example, what should a company do when a facebook 'fan' posts something negative on the company wall?
Most negative comments are related to poor customer experiences. These comments are made by customers who have probably purchased your product/service, are unhappy with what they got, and have not yet been able to resolve the issue so they've turned to facebook to get resolution.
As I see it, there are three options to deal with negative comments on facebook and other social networks:
Option 1: Delete the negative comment and block the user
Facebook provides business page managers the option of erasing comments and blocking users. This means that their comment disappears and also that they cannot return to the page. This is the most harsh reaction of all three of our options and is rarely recommended except when comments are offensive to other users.
- Advantages: Comment is hidden from other fans and user cannot come back to post additional comments.
- Disadvantages: User may become more upset and post bad press about your company on other Web outlets such as forums, business review websites and other social networks. Remember, a happy consumer tells 3 people and an unhappy consumer tells 9! While this option is appealing in the short term, the long term repercussions can be much harder to control.
Option 2: Delete the negative comment
As a facebook business page administrator, you also have the choice to simply remove a comment, without blocking the user. There are legit uses for this when comments are irrelevant or spammy.
- Advantages: Comment is hidden from other fans
- Disadvantages: Same as option 1 except that your fan may come back and add another comment in the future
Option 3: Be Transparent
The last option, and the one we typically recommend, involves leaving the negative comment posted and replying in a concerned way with intent to correct the problem and appease the customer. This is typically recommended to avoid the negative side-effects of Option 1 and Option 2, while also showing other fans that your business is committed to keeping customers happy.
- Advantages: Negative publicity can be turn into positive publicity by publicly turning a disgruntled customer into a happy one
- Disadvantages: Not every customer can be pleased. However, making a sincere attempt can go a long way.
In the end, transparency (Option 3) is typically recommended as it is preferred to deal with criticism in a semi-controlled environment (like facebook), as opposed to having to deal with angry and motivated customers who may post the same negative comment in several other places where you as a business owner have less control.