How to handle negativity on social media

July 19, 2018 By    
Image: iStockcom/Irina Griskova

Image: iStock.com/Irina Griskova

Last month, we reviewed the importance of using social media platforms to boost business. Now that you have a social presence, you’ll need to get equipped with ways to handle negative comments or reviews that your retail propane operation may receive.

There will always be that disgruntled customer who is unhappy with a propane delivery or an interaction with a bobtail driver, whether it is deserved or not. This oftentimes comes in the form of an unpleasant email or voicemail, but in the digital space, the recipients aren’t limited to the ears and eyes of you and your employees. Your company’s reputation is vulnerable to anyone who has access to the internet, including potential customers.

When confronted with criticism, it’s instinctual to feel the need to explain why the customer is in the wrong, or to ignore negativity altogether. Oftentimes, one social media response can lead to a slew of more responses, so putting on your customer service cap is vital when choosing how to address a negative comment or review.

Here are five tips for combatting negative social media and online reviews:

1. Control the comments. It’s important to stay on top of what your customers are saying about your company. Set up Google Alerts to better monitor any news or reviews, and check your social media reviews and comments on a daily basis.

2. Follow up … promptly. This is extremely important for retaining current customers. Contacting them, whether it’s via email or phone, shows you care the service you provide is up to their expectations. Making a personal connection could alter the customer’s opinion, and they may even amend or remove the negative review. It also is important to respond quickly to avoid a ripple effect of negative comments. A standard response time should be within 24 hours.

3. Choose a voice. June’s column highlighted the importance of deciding the voice your company will use online, and this should carry through to how you choose to respond to negative comments. Your response should reflect your company’s values and professionalism.

4. Develop a protocol. Each situation is unique, but it’s beneficial to have a general response canned that you can tweak depending on the circumstance. Since you know you need to respond, this will save you time and peace of mind.

5. Ask for feedback. It’s common to not hear from a customer until something goes wrong, so an opportunity lies in asking a satisfied customer to post about or review your propane business on social media. The more positive feedback or reviews your company has, the less effect the negative reviews will have on your overall score.

Don’t let the fear of dealing with negativity hinder you from growing your social media presence. Take unfavorable comments seriously, but don’t take them to heart.


Joelle Harms is the digital media manager at LP Gas parent company North Coast Media.

About the Author:

Joelle Harms, an Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate, creates content for digital properties at North Coast Media, parent company of LP Gas, including e-newsletters, videos, social media accounts and websites. Her specialization in creative writing aids in developing the content voice and message for the company’s online presence.

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