How Social Listening Will Help You Deal With Negative Comments

Social media presence is basically a must. You know it, we know it, everyone knows it. And while it brings plenty of new opportunities, attracts a loyal following and makes it possible for you to talk directly with and to the fans, it may also cause some issues that you would not have to deal with otherwise.

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Well, listening is always a good idea.

Having the right tool for social media listening (we’re not the ones to brag, but we have one), gets you ahead. You might easily miss what’s being said about you while browsing all of your profiles – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. It can be exhausting. Having all of the comments in one place makes your life easier and your response mechanisms more effective, whether you’re a small business or a huge firm.

The thing is, though, you still have to listen, and I mean that in the most human way possible. Try to feel what your customer felt while writing a negative comment. First and foremost – it’s never personal, so just stop for a minute. Think. You do not want to respond emotionally. Keep it simple. Oh, and also – be human.

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When a customer, or a fan, leaves you a negative comment, you should focus both on the person and the content. Care. You have to show that you care. Hell, you actually have to care. The best way to do that is to approach each customer individually, if that’s possible. If someone is unhappy, it’s always a good idea to investigate the issue.

As you are a living and breathing person, you know that being human has its ups and downs. Well, on social media you have to be the best possible version of yourself. If not, you’ll end up with something that in 2013 BuzzFeed called a “The Most Epic Brand Meltdown On Facebook Ever”. Just take a look at the screenshot below – and if that’s not enough, check the rest.

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Talk with your customers – but not speak to them, just talk and be courteous. Find out what you can, just like you would do when dealing with a troubled friend. You’re on social media to make sure that your customers are getting the best experience possible, and the talking is a huge part of that.

A social media listening tool allows you to recognize a negative comment almost immediately. Take the time we saved you and construct an individual, caring response. If, for example, you get a string of bad comments, the last thing you want to do is simply copy and paste. Take the time, really. It’s worth it.

Of course, there will always be haters – and that’s a tough one. At first, it won’t be easy to differentiate between a real complaint and the one that’s been put up on your profile out of pure hate.

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If you screwed up, apologize. If you didn’t – you might want to consider apologizing anyway. It not only shows that you’ve taken your customers remarks seriously, but it simply looks good. It portrays you and your firm as completely normal, leaving and breathing organisms. As someone that your customers can relate to.

If you don’t understand what’s wrong – but the comment is still on your profile – ask your customer to elaborate. A simple question is more than enough in most cases.

But, well, there is an exception. Do not respond to hate based on racism, gender, sexual orientation, religion, et cetera. There are two approaches here – you can either take a screenshot and delete the comment, or let your community deal with the guy (or gal).

As for an example of apologizing “in action”, there was a case between Brandon Stanton (the famous author of Humans of New York) and the DKNY fashion brand. The company used Stanton’s photos in one of its stores without asking and/or compensating the artist. Cutting long story short – after finding out about DKNY’s stepping over the line, Humans of New York author suggested that DKNY should donate $100,000 on his behalf to the YMCA in Brooklyn.

Discussion between Brandon Stanton and DKNY

Having made an honest mistake (an interior designer team used Stanton’s images as an internal mock-up), DKNY reacted within four hours with a sufficient apology. Also, the company donated $25,000 to said YMCA center in Stanton’s name – while it may not be a $100,000, it still counts. Both parties walked out of the conflict without suing each other.

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But what if you made a mistake and the person is not satisfied with your explanation and/or apology? Make it up to them! Offer an incentive. Ask for a private conversation and offer a discount or a business service. You can also do it in public, the choice rests entirely with you. Either way, with that kind of approach you will be able to convert an estranged customer to a content one.

Zappos.com is making a great job of that. Running a business that big, with over a billion in revenue and a a variety of customers worldwide, mistakes are bound to happen. But what to do then?

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Screenshot by Shopify

What we’re dealing here is a delayed shipment. It occurs sometimes, and the customers will forgive you if you show that you care. From my experience, most of the companies would stop after offering the $50 coupon – but no, Zappos took it further. They are willing to correct their mistake in a way that best suits their client, not themselves – and that should be a golden standard for every e-commerce out there.

Only with that kind of approach you’ll be getting multiple posts like these:

An example of great customer care via Zappos.com

An example of great customer care via Zappos.com

An example of great customer care via Zappos.com

All in all – social media listening is a crucial extension of customer service. And while content is king when it comes to gaining followers, listening to them is the number one thing for keeping them with you.


Antoni Zolciak

An editor with lots of love for branding and content marketing. All about photography, technology and cars. Writes for Brand24, Digital Camera Poland, techManiaK and AutoCentrum.