Tips on How to Handle Negative Tweets

Should you ignore negative tweets or comments on Twitter? If not, what should you do? It’s a question which keeps coming up as marketers and companies get more and more involved in social media.

Among most social media evangelists and analysts (I don’t like the term “expert”), the consensus appears to be that a negative comment is an opportunity for you to shine via social media channels such as Twitter. In this post I want to offer some tips on what ou should and should not do when you encounter a negative tweet.

I think it’s reasonable that the first thing which pops into one’s head when they see a negative tweet is some anxiety about what the commenter might say next if you engage them. I’m not a psychologist, but I suspect it’s a human quirk of nature that we like to take the path of least resistance and hope if we ignore a problem it might go away. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the worst thing you can do in this context. That’s because it’s not just the negative commenter that you have to worry about, but what others are thinking when they read that comment – especially when they see no response from you.

Of course, we want to fix a problem a customer is having! Good customer service is simply good business. I’m not saying your actions (the substance) are less important than the optics. I’m just saying it’s a reality which should motivate us all to try harder to leverage Twitter for better customer interactions and service.

A few things to keep in mind when someone flames your company/brand/product on Twitter:

  • Before you respond check out the tweeter’s profile and get an idea of who you are dealing with. Check their recent tweets on their Twitter page and get a sense of their mindset and attitude. You may even find there is an agenda behind the tweets and that might influence whether you respond, if at all – this is a judgment call.
  • NEVER take anything said about your company or brand personally! Keep a level head and don’t allow inflammatory remarks to influence your response.
  • If you are not 100% sure about your response then get a second opinion before you hit send. Trust your gut!
  • Read your response out loud to make sure it has no typos and makes sense before you send it.
  • Kill them with kindness and empathy! This is where it can get tricky. Obviously if the person is tweeting away that your product sucks, you don’t want to empathize with that, but you do want to empathize with their frustration – no one likes to be frustrated.
  • Take personal ownership of the problem and offer a clear path to a resolution. Before you do engage the person, make sure you have information which will be of help. I suggest a direct contact email address – watch for that email and respond immediately.
  • You could ask them to follow you and follow them so you can DM, but I try to stay away from this because it could be perceived as you wanting to take the problem behind closed doors.
  • Deeds speak! EXAMINE, ENGAGE & ENSURE the person gets the attention they require and their concerns are addressed.
  • Four very powerful words: How can I help?

You can’t win them all and I promise you that at some point you will run into someone who will be critical of you no matter how much effort you put in to helping them. This is a golden opportunity too! Always do an “after action” report and take a look at what you did, what might have gone wrong and what you can do next time to deal with the situation better. Make sure you write it all up and disseminate the information throughout your organization so that everyone can learn from it.

You might even want to write up the positive encounters for your blog and use them as case studies to showcase your commitment to customer service. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your wins.

Have I missed anything? Please feel free to add any tips you have on this.