How to Handle Haters in Social Media

It can get a little uncomfortable. If you’ve ever dealt with an upset customer in your store (and who hasn’t), you know the feeling. You not only have to resolve the issue but you do it with other customers looking on.

Now imagine doing the same thing on your social media page. But instead of a few customers, all your followers (and their contacts) are listening in too. Sometimes you have to engage with haters in social media.

Ready for some help?

Here are some tips to positively deal with negative comments on your small business’ social media page.

  • Take three – It’s easy to absorb others’ stress and respond in the same way. It’s part of your natural defense mechanism. But resist. Instead, step back and take three seconds to recognize the situation. Some people call it “counting to three.” It derails the stress transfer and gives you some space that will help you deal with it.
  • Listen first – It’s tempting to jump right in, especially if the customer is saying something false. You want the truth to come out. But the reality is, they won’t hear you. They want to be heard first. So listen. Then confirm it by repeating your understanding of the situation. That’s especially important online since you can’t communicate with non-verbal cues.
  • Feel the need for speed – No one likes to be ignored. But that’s what customers can feel like if you let comments sit on your social media site without being addressed. And the crowd listening will start to join in too. So make it a point to regularly review your sites then respond quickly. You don’t have to have an immediate answer but you do have to let customers know you heard them and will follow-up soon.
  • Own up – Everyone makes mistakes. If you messed up an order, acknowledge it. Don’t delete the comment. Instead, use the power of the media to apologize publicly. That sends a powerful message to the customer and to others listening in. Depending on the nature of the issue, offer a resolution or take the conversation offline to work out a solution.
  • Look for trouble – Negative comments aren’t limited to your social media page. Customers have many other online avenues. So make it a point to look for what others are saying. It can be as simple as typing your business’ name in the search bar of Google. Or set up a Google Alert to contact you when something is being said. It’s your chance to proactively address issues and drive traffic to your social media page.
  • Canning spam – What if the negative comment is malicious, perhaps the work of a competitor? First, challenge your assumption before acting. Drew Larison, social media marketing director, advises to acknowledge the concern, apologize for the perceived issue, carefully clarify the inaccuracy, and take it offline. He admits that sometimes it’s best not to respond if you think it’s a deliberate attempt to tarnish your reputation.

It’s easy for small business owners to take negative comments personally on social media. And there’s the added pressure of drawing a crowd. But considering these tips can give you a process for dealing with them in a way that preserves your relationship with customers.


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