We hope that you and your business will never need this information, but “just in case”, it’s good to be prepared. Every business, blogger, and the rest of us on social media have experienced it: someone just called you out on Twitter or in a blog. It’s all too easy to get frustrated and respond with something that will just make the situation worse (“I’ll give you a refund right away… oh wait, you didn’t actually pay for this!”) or to take it personally and get upset.
While there is no magic formula for dealing with complaints in social media, I do have a few tips that have helped me.
1. A Quick Response Goes a Long Way
I can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve seen turned around with a quick reply. If someone has an issue with your product or misunderstood your point of view, reach out and explain it to them. Most of the time when they realize that you’re actually paying attention and care, that makes all the difference (for the rest of the time, see number five).
Of course, this assumes you are actually paying attention. So if you’re not, you might want to look into ways to monitor your brand on social media.
2. You May Have To Respond As You, Not Your Company
When someone has a legitimate complaint, I’ve found one of the most effective things to do is reach out from your personal account. In my experience, when they realize they’re dealing with a real person who’s trying to help, people are more open and willing to listen. This shouldn’t be done for every complaint, as some people will never be turned around, but I’ve found when there’s a real, resolvable issue this method often works much better.
3. Give Yourself More Than 140 Characters To Respond
At times, it’s just impossible to help someone in 140 characters. Or it’s possible, but you would have to be really terse — which is definitely not going to make you seem understanding. Instead, ask them how to connect off Twitter (shocking, I know). Shoot the complainant an e-mail or even give them a call and you’ll be surprised how far a little outreach goes.
4. Let Someone Else Respond For You
If there’s no way you can respond in a helpful way — e.g., if it would make you seem self-serving or maybe you’ve already tried and failed — it can be helpful to have someone else speak up for you.
If you have haters, you probably also have fans, and they’re probably very willing to spring to your defense. Maybe they’ve even already done, in which case, their response might be much more effective than yours and you can just leave well enough along.
If they haven’t already responded, consider bringing the issue to the attention of a few of your fans. Do so carefully and cautiously. Only do it with people you have actual relationships with and only in a lightweight, non-pushy way. I find the best way is actually just to privately ask for feedback on a complaint — maybe it has merit and you don’t realize it or maybe they can help you understand what’s going on.
5. Know When To Let It Go
The truth is, you simply won’t be able to turn everyone around. The trick (I’m still working on it) is to not let it get to you. No business or person is going to make it without having a few haters — so if you have some, you might just be doing something right. Just don’t take that line of thinking too far!
Bottom line, the complainers won’t go away, but you can choose how you deal with them. Some of them will be legitimate complaints from reasonable people that will be touched when you reach out quickly and earnestly to help them. Others… well you know what they say: “Haters gonna hate.”
Originally posted on Mashable.com Megan Berry is Marketing Manager for Klout, the standard for online influence. She also blogs at The Huffington Post and Brazen Careerist. You can follow her on Twitter at @meganberry.